What four innovative companies are doing to enhance the lives of kids and parents
As anyone with children knows, getting childcare can be a challenge. WeVillage Childcare Center in Sherman Oaks aims to change that. With a flexible drop-off program and extended hours, the center caters to the needs of busy parents. Spur-of-the-moment appointment? No problem—the center is fully staffed with certified caregivers and teachers and ready to accept your kid. Last-minute Saturday night sitter cancellation? WeVillage to the rescue. Gotta work late? Not an issue—the center is open.
WeVillage’s nontraditional approach extends to the space. The well-crafted, 3,000-square-foot structure is state-of-the-art, with designated play areas for each age. There are toddler, transition, preschool and after-school programs. Enrichment classes, weekend care and camps are also offered.
And even the smallest of tots are welcome. The center accepts infants as young as 6 weeks old.
Main attraction: A climbing net—essentially a Tarzan-style indoors play area—which kids of all ages go bonkers over.
The Ultimate Sleepover
When Trish Healy’s newly adopted daughter—a 12-year-old foster child—asked to have her first sleepover party, the former Korn Ferry executive went all out—crafting a large, hand-sewn tent filled with mattresses and lush bedding where the girls could bond over a magical, shared experience. When guests raved afterwards, Trish was inspired to found WonderTent Parties.
There is a full range of tented sleepover experiences to choose from in just about any theme. For the Slumber Under (ages 3+), a tented experience is created for kids not yet ready for the full overnighter. The SleepOver caters to ages 7+. For the SleepOut (ages 12+), a ginormous outdoor tent is fabricated and stocked with comfy mattresses, lush blankets, bedside tables and lanterns.
Trish and her team provide everything needed: delivery, setup and styling, as well as breakdown and pickup the next day.
New attractions: WonderTent is now doing experiences for adults. The company recently did a “boho chic” 50th birthday party as well as a Dodger-themed surprise soiree that provided 10 female guests with sleeping quarters in a “WonderDome.”
Adventure in a Cube
Start your child’s love affair with food early. That’s one of the goals of Tummy Thyme, which combines food groups in striking color combinations in a fist-sized cube—all aimed at stimulating your baby’s palate and visual curiosity.
The online company is the brainchild of a Valley couple who came up with an innovative way of preparing food for their own daughter. Their signature product is a vibrant, fresh-frozen cube for babies and toddlers. The 4-ounce, preservative-free cubes—which layer ingredients in an attractive palette—are made with locally sourced (when possible) organic fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains and non-GMO proteins. Immediately after cooking, the various meals are frozen into cubes, locking in important vitamins and minerals without the need for preservatives.
For infants, dishes include Roasted Pear & Ginger with Greek Yoghurt, Japanese Sweet Potato with Coconut & Cilantro and Baked Atlantic Salmon with Asian Greens. Toddlers can choose from items like Baked Grass-fed Beef Spaghetti Bolognese, Savory Corn and Zucchini Muffins and Quinoa Mac n’ Peas.
New on the menu: a ready-to-serve line. The “grab and go” meals in a jar are refrigerator safe for up to three days and don’t require any preparation.
Let’s Do Lunch
In 2011, when her child was nearly a year old, Lisa Rotondi began making baby food for friends. The operation turned into a home/frozen meal delivery service for families, who then started asking for homemade, healthy, delivered meals for their children’s lunches. And Organic Kids L.A. was born.
Operating out of a commercial kitchen in North Hollywood (a nut-free facility), the company now delivers meals to schools across the city, including 15 private institutions here in the Valley. Lunches are available in three different sizes: small, medium or large.
The company gets 99% of its fresh fruits and veggies, as well as much of its frozen produce for smoothies, from a certified organic farmer. There are no pesticides or GMOs in any of the dishes. Red meat is mostly grass-fed and chicken is free roaming with non-GMO/pesticide-free feed. The company works with the La Crescenta-based Harmony Farms, which sells the Mary’s Free Range Chicken brand. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.
Bonus: Organic Kids L.A. now has classes and summer camps for young cooking enthusiasts, and it recently started offering family take-home dinners as well.
JINYA Ramen Bar, the rising ramen chain from founder Tomonori Takahashi, recently added tsukemen at the original Studio City location.