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New Hope for Food Allergic Kids

Parents of kids with food allergies share a common bond, and we like to share information that may help someone in our little club. I subscribe to an email from Allergy Moms (, and they send out lots of great info on new research, personal stories and clinical trials.  I highly recommend this to other allergy parents.

I have mentioned before that my son, Max, has severe allergies to egg, peanuts, tree nuts (food) and also dogs, cats and penicillin. There is a lot of stress involved in taking him to a play date, school or party – anywhere that food will be served. We constantly look for new ways to adapt to these situations and to ease other parents into the idea that it really is a medical emergency situation if they accidentally give Max the wrong food. For all allergy parents, it’s a work in constant progress!

Today, I wanted to pass along a link to the latest clinical trial listings, in case any of you are in the areas where they are offered. On behalf of other Moms of allergic kids, our thanks in advance for trying to help find the cause and a cure once and for all!

Jacksonville mom cozies up to Bottle Snugglers idea

Jennifer Marko liked Bottle Snugglers so much she bought the company.

Working over the breakfast table in her Jackonville home, Marko, 34, planned the product’s branding and how she would sell it. For the past year, she’s run her company out of her home office, where she’s filled her Internet orders by hand.

She’s sold about 1,000 of the snugglers, soft plush animals equipped with rings that can be positioned to strategically hold a bottle in a baby’s mouth.

As a new mother in 2006, Marko bottle-fed her baby, Max, and realized that she had to hold the bottle in his mouth with one hand as she held him with the other, which effectively prevented her from doing anything else.

“When you run a business with an infant, you know you need a little bit of help,” she said.

The multi-tasking public relations consultant wasn’t going to let feedings stop her from getting things done, she said. She scoured the Internet and found three products designed to hold the bottle in place. Two of them didn’t work, but  Bottle Snugglers, then dubbed by its inventor Bottle Tenders, worked, and she used it for more than a year.

The product is a plush animal with Velcro on its back or stomach. A bottle ring, also equipped with Velcro, can be attached to it in a variety of positions to accommodate a baby, and the plush animal can become a toy after the baby graduates from the bottle, Marko said.

She used it heavily. So much so, she wanted another one for her car. But when she went back to the Web site, she found the product sold out. It was sold out again later, and she began to wonder about the company’s status, she said.

“I kept telling my husband, ‘either they’re sold out, or they went to retail,’ ” she said.

So she called the product’s inventors, a Minnesota couple who were running the company on the side as they also worked full-time jobs. They were ready to sell, and Marko and her husband, Adam, 43, who owns a Jacksonville advertising agency, were ready to buy it.

Jennifer Marko bought the company for $100,000, and made a career change. She had worked in public relations for 10 years and was ready for something new. She didn’t want to get into sales, she said, but she’s such a believer in Bottle Snugglers, she sells them cheerfully.

Along with the company and the patent for the product came the previous owners’ stock of about 150 items. She sold those, and working through a Jacksonville company, found a Chinese manufacturer and has had 5,000 more produced, she said. All have to pass safety testing before entering the U.S., she said. She also consults with a product liability law expert even though the product is made only of fabric, stuffing and Velcro, she said.

Today, she sells Bottle Snugglers for $23.95 each in four designs: a cow, a Teddy bear, a pink pig and a blue puppy. She said she’ll bring back a previously produced bunny in her next run.

Bottle Snugglers are available in retail stores in 10 states, and she’s working to have retail chains carry the product. It’s also for sale in speciality baby stores in the Denver, Nashville, Tenn., and Minneapolis-St. Paul airports and four Web sites other than her own

Like Marko, many of her customers also are multitasking working moms.

“I started consulting from home shortly after my daughter, Simone, was born and soon realized that she only wanted a bottle when I just happened to be on a conference call, finishing a report or sending e-mails,” said Sonia Thomasino of Jacksonville, who also is in public relations.

Thomasino said she received a Bottle Snuggler as a baby shower gift and gave it a try.

“It was my favorite shower gift, which is why I now give it to expecting friends. I’ve even had one shipped to Australia,” she said.

Marko said she smiles when she sees Internet orders come in late at night — she said she knows they’re from another frazzled mom scrambling for an answer to the same problem she had in 2006.

“If I hadn’t had a baby, I wouldn’t have known about this,” she said. “And people think this is a clever idea. It’s so simple.”

By Kevin Turner


Working Mother Magazine Features Bottle Snugglers

What a great feeling it was to flip through the pages of Working Mother Magazine and seeing a little feature of our Precious Puppy Bottle Snuggler! It’s on Page 52, if you have a copy.

As a working Mom myself, I know personally that sometimes you need an extra hand to get it all done. In fact, that’s how I found the product in the first place. (It was under a different name then.) I had a business and an infant who would not stay in his bassinet AT ALL! I worked with one hand all day long (while holding him in one arm) until feeding time, when I had no hands left (one holding baby, one holding the bottle). That situation is so typical, and it’s what Bottle Snugglers are all about.

Once I found this little helping hand, I could hold and feed Max while still typing, filing, dialing or otherwise running a business. I am so pleased to offer this type of relief to Moms everywhere. Also, we are being evaluated by several major retailers, so keep an eye out the next time you’re in a “big box” store.

Happy feeding!

Dad’s Parenting Is Vital to Child’s Future

Overall, I am a very lucky wife. My husband is a great dad to our toddler. He plays, rides bikes, makes tents, and does preschool pick-up most days of the week.

I know how important it is in my home to have Dad involved as much as possible, and I found some very interesting statistics that show  just how vital a strong male role model is to successful kids.  It seems that children who have a close relationship with their fathers are less likely to be in trouble with the police or do drugs and more likely to do well in school and have high self esteem. Father involvement in parenting has increased in recent years, and hopefully this trend will continue! 

A great website that I have found is They have posted studies about EVERYTHING related to parenting, and some of it is really eye opening. Wherever you get your parenting tips, I know that if you are taking the time to read this blog, you are a very caring parent. :)  And for all of us multi-tasking Moms, it’s vital to our sanity to have a little help from Dad.

Keep those Dads in the mix! It just may keep our little ones out of trouble down the road.

When Do You Start Solid Foods?

Babies have so many milestones, and all the “firsts” are so special to parents. The first bath, the first smile, and the first steps are all times of wonder and excitement.

Some milestones, like when to start giving baby pureed food in addition to their breast milk or formula, can be stressful. We don’t want to disrupt their digestion by starting too early, but we definitely don’t want them to be extra hungry because they need more than a liquid diet. Advice from doctors, friends, and grandmothers may all differ, adding to the issue.

My grandmother, for example, suggested that we put some rice cereal in my son’s bottle when he was about 4 months old. She said she felt sorry for him because she “knew” he was hungry. Our pediatrician suggested waiting until closer to 6 months to introduce foods, so we decided that 5 months would be as good a time as any. Luckily, Max took to eating fruits and veggies easily, and we didn’t have any digestive issues. If only he was as easy to feed now as he was then!

I think a lot about baby feeding, even though my son is now almost 4 years old.  I found a very helpful chart from Earth’s Best Organics, and the link is below. It suggests the best timing for feedings, food suggestions, and when to introduce different foods for baby’s first year. 

Of course, opinions will vary, and I am not a doctor! I hope that this guide will help ease the stress of at least one milestone for you.

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