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20 Delightfully Geeky Baby Toys

Heather Bays' Etsy Store
Heather Bays' Etsy Store

Just because you were lucky enough to forgo pop music and trash television doesn’t mean your little one will be so lucky. But if you want to start your baby off on the right path as soon as possible, you can always help push him or her into geekdom with one of these great baby toys.

1. Vampire Pacifier

Whether your little angel is an Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, or Twilight fan in training, ThinkGeek’s pacifier fangs are a great way to make him grow to love his inner vampire.

2. Handlebar Mustache Pacifier

If your baby was just born to love Victrola records and Penny Farthing bicycles, then this fantastic handlebar mustache pacifier from appropriately named Etsy seller BabyHipsters is a must.

3. Golden Snitch Rattle

Just because your child probably won’t receive a letter inviting him to Hogwarts doesn’t mean that you can’t train him to be a professional quiddich player from an early age. If you want a champion seeker, start him out with this golden snitch rattle from Etsy seller ThreeDegrees.

4. Yoshi Egg Rattle

Teach your child the value of old-school games so they can appreciate why Yoshi, Tetris, and Pac-Man are so fantastic. Start your babe young with Etsy seller HandmadeMonster's rattle that looks like Yoshi’s egg.

5. Dr. Mario Pill Rattle

Etsy seller 72stitches' Dr. Mario rattles are great because they will not only get your child interested in classic Nintendo games from an early age, but they may also inspire your little angel to go into medicine—and who doesn’t want their baby to grow up to be a doctor?

6. Mario Baby Rattle

Etsy seller Mama24Boyz sells a PDF pattern of these designs for anyone interested in crocheting their very own Mario Bros. baby rattles. Yarn, needle, and intermediate crochet experience sold separately.

7. Eye Ball Rattle

Have you sworn to train your child how to survive the zombie apocalypse? Then get her started early with Etsy seller HandmadeMonster's eye ball rattle so she can become desensitized to the inevitable violence and gore that will take over the world in those dark days to come.

8. Cthulhu Rattle

Prefer your horror to be a little more psychological than a typical zombie gore-fest? Then interest your child in Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos with this cute little crocheted Cthulhu rattle by Etsy seller HeatherBays.

9. Death Star Rattle

If your baby Jedi is ready to destroy his first Death Star, start him off easy with this adorable baby rattle version by Etsy seller SincereCostumes. Sure, it will take a lot of spit, dirt and vomit to destroy this soft version, but like all Death Stars, it has its weak spots.

10. Lightsaber Rattle

Etsy seller Geek-a-Bye Baby sells all kinds of great geek baby goodies. This lightsaber rattle, for example, is a great way to accustom your child to using the Force from an early age.

11. Yoda Rattle

Similarly, Geek-a-Bye Baby’s Yoda rattle provides an excellent chance for you to expose your youngster to the light side of the Force before she ever learns that the dark side likes to bribe young recruits with cookies.

12. Doctor Hoo Owl

For geek parents who prefer the TARDIS to the Millennium Falcon, Geek-a-Baby’s adorable plush “Doctor Hoo” owl, based on Number 11, can help introduce your little companion to the wide world of Whovianism.

13. Dalek Plushies

These pastel yarn Daleks by Etsy seller fassbaby may not destroy the world, but be careful—they might just steal your baby’s heart. Aside from being adorable, they also feature a jingling bell inside so even before your little one can really grasp what it means to be The Doctor’s greatest nemesis, she’ll understand why the Daleks have been a fan-favorite since the sixties.

14. The One Ring Teether

This One Ring teether by Etsy seller averyrayne won’t make your baby invisible, but it might help the pains of teething disappear. Just make sure you take it away before she is old enough to start calling it “my precious.”

15. Nintendo Controller Teether

NinTeeth-o might not be as popular as Nintendo, but when your baby is teething, he’ll certainly appreciate this wooden controller by Etsy seller 3PrincessStore over the plastic game controller he’ll grow to love as he gets older.

16. Batman Teether

If you want your kid to grow up ready to take a bite out of crime, then get him started on the right path with this Batman teether by Etsy seller TeethME. It’s a much better way to start him on his road to superherodom than letting him become an orphan.

17. Superhero Rubber Duckies

It’s important to make bath time fun for your young ones or else you’re going to have a hard time getting them to scrub up as they get older. If you want to help make your babe’s bath fun and geeky, then grab one of these superhero rubber duckies.

18. Scrabble Building Blocks

Some parents want to teach their children the value of a dollar, but for others, the value of Scrabble letters can be just as important. These Scrabble blocks by Etsy seller TheBlackSpot are a great way to get your child familiar with Scrabble tiles before she can even spell the word “Scrabble.”

19. Presidential Building Blocks

Get your little one addicted to history from a young age with these Presidential Building Blocks that feature images and facts about all 44 presidents. When stacked in the proper manner, the blocks come together to form an American flag.

20. Periodic Table Blocks

Just because your little one is too young to read doesn’t mean she’s too young for science. Now you can begin to instill elemental knowledge before elementary school with these periodic table building blocks.

I regret that I can’t weigh in on the effectiveness of such great geek goodies as I don’t have any youngsters yet. But do any of you Flosser parents have any other useful tips on how to get your child interested in geek culture before they can even speak?

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Aflac
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technology
Aflac's Robotic Duck Comforts Kids with Cancer
Aflac
Aflac

Every year, close to 16,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer. That news can be the beginning of a long and draining battle that forces kids and their parents to spend large amounts of time with medical providers, enduring long and sometimes painful treatments. As The Verge reports, a bit of emotional support during that process might soon come from an unlikely source: the Alfac duck.

The supplemental insurance company announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that it has partnered with the medical robotics company Sproutel to design and manufacture My Special Aflac Duck, a responsive and emotive sim-bird intended exclusively for children undergoing cancer treatment.

When a child cuddles the fuzzy robotic duck, it can cuddle back. It reacts to being cradled and stroked by quacking or moving its head. Kids can also touch special RFID chips emblazoned with emoji on the duck's chest to tell it how they’re feeling, and the device will mimic those emotions.

But the duck isn’t solely for cuddling. In “IV Mode,” which can be switched on while a child is undergoing IV therapy, the duck can help the user relax by guiding them through breathing exercises. Accessories included with the toy also allow children to "draw blood" from the duck as well as administer medication, a kind of role-playing that may help patients feel more comfortable with their own treatments.

Aflac approached Sproutel with the idea after seeing Sproutel’s Jerry the Bear, a social companion robot intended to support kids with diabetes. Other robotic companions—like the Japanese-made seal Paro and Hasbro's Joy for All companion pets for seniors—have hinted at a new market for robotics that prioritize comfort over entertainment or play.

My Special Aflac Duck isn’t a commercial product and won’t be available for retail sale. Aflac intends to offer it as a gift directly to patients, with the first rollout expected at its own cancer treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia. Mass distribution is planned for later this year.

[h/t The Verge]

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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Animals
Want to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Feed It to an Elephant
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When the holiday season finally comes to a close, people get creative with the surplus of dead Christmas trees. One San Francisco-based artist transformed brittle shrubs into hanging installation pieces. Others use pine needles for mulch, or repurpose trees into bird sanctuaries. For the average person, sticking it into a wood chipper or "treecycling" it as part of a community program are all eco-friendly ways to say goodbye to this year's Douglas fir. None of these solutions, however, are as cute as the waste-cutting strategy employed by some zoos around the world: giving them to elephants.

Each year, zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin—a facility that bills itself as “Europe’s largest adventure animal park”—feed the elephants unsold pine trees. The plants are reportedly pesticide-free, and they serve as a good (albeit prickly) supplement to the pachyderms' usual winter diets.

A bit closer to home, the residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee rely on local residents to take part in their annual Christmas Tree Drive. In addition to being nutrient-rich, the tree's needles are said to help aid in an elephant's digestion. But beyond all that, it's pretty adorable to watch.

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