5 Products Union Square Play Founder Jennie Monness Can’t Live Without

You probably know Jennie Monness as the social media parenting influencer who regularly shares play tips as well as social and emotional coping techniques. The mother of two and early childhood expert, however, is also the co-founder of the mega popular Union Square Play and  Mo’ Mommies. I was lucky enough to be able to try a few of the Union Square Play classes and they blew all others I’ve tried out of the water. The staff is great and the play experiences are not only thoughtful, but ever changing. It’s little surprise that the play space is quickly expanding with multiple locations in NYC, the Hamptons and Connecticut.

Photo credit: @michellerosephoto

While Union Square Play is thoughtfully (and beautifully) curated, what’s amazing about Monness is that she isn’t one of those parenting experts that tells people to spend a ton of money. In fact, her favorite play things are every day items that will only cost you a few dollars (assuming you don’t already have them).


Keep ready for a look at her favorites and if you’re heading to the beach, she just launched a new kit with Ravi Nova!

Nuby popsicle mold, $9.99

“We all experience our kids asking incessantly for snacks. All. Day. Long. If you aren’t already in this phase, you will be soon. Making popsicles with just coconut water or with smoothies has been our go-to snack since my girls started wanting snacks. It’s a sweet snack that hits the spot and that you feel good about giving your child. Your kids can also help you make them. Just use some water with whatever you’re freezing and make sure to run warm water over it when you pull the pops out once they’re frozen.”

Oxo salad spinner, $29.95

“There’s no right or wrong way to play, for me it comes down to what we want our children to get out of their play.  Don’t we want them to be engaged rather than entertained? Do we want them to sit and watch when they play or immerse themselves in learning and fun? I think we all want engagement, but also want to be able to make dinner, unload the dishwasher or just be able to have a minute to breathe. If you put this salad spinner on the ground for any child who can sit up, you will understand what I mean by pure engagement. Your child will love realizing that they are able to cause the spinner to spin by pushing down on the button. It really provides all the things children love from an early age, pushing, opening, closing, dumping and the cause and effect quality of an old school jack in the box without the shock/scary factor.”

Metal condiment cups, $10.59

“With the right mix of thoughtful toys and ‘non toys’ you get engaged, focused and curious babies. You encourage creativity, imagination and play that is endless and build confidence when children can engage with objects that have no right or wrong way of using them! These metal cups come in a pack of 12 and they don’t disappoint. Even the youngest babies will enjoy the clanging sound they make when they bang them together, on the floor or knock them over. I used to put a bunch of them in the path way of my crawling daughters and saw the joy it gave them to crawl into them and knock them over. They are also great snack cups, great for play dough props or water cups for painting. We use them endlessly.”

Makeup brush, $6.99

“A makeup brush is my go to for on-the-go. With a little bit of water your child will go from intense antsy-ness in a car, airplane or at a restaurant to pure calm when you hand them this brush and say ‘paint whatever you want with water!'”

Welly band aid tin, $13.48

“Similar to the makeup brush, a tin of band aids can provide calm and focus almost always. Children love opening things, love that they can stick band aids on themselves or anywhere and I think children associate band aids with calmness anyway (we all use band aids to help a child who has any ‘injury’ whether it’s a made up one or real one). The tin is just extra fun because it opens and closes, it can clang and can be filled with smaller objects as a homemade rattle.”