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Necessity Is Mother of Toddler Invention

When her daughter was a toddler, Cheryl Vacca, creator of Mindibag LLC, developed tendinitis in her shoulder from carrying a large diaper bag on her shoulder and her daughter on her hip. In physical therapy, she realized that almost everyone there was a mother. "They all had back, shoulder and hip pain" from carrying totes and toddlers, Vacca said.

But the inspiration to create her hands-free toddler bag came the day that her daughter took off running at an outdoor shopping plaza. "I was fumbling with my purse and [Emily] saw a balloon and took off running. She got away from me," Vacca said. "I dropped my bag and started running after her. At that point, I decided I wouldn't use anything that wasn't hands-free."

Her daughter, Emily, who is now 5, ran down the sidewalk, but the situation could have been dangerous, Vacca said.

She couldn't find a better bag, so the former research biologist created her own, one that is durable, lightweight and hands free. "Your child starts walking around 14 months old, and you can't possibly keep up with them with a large bag," Vacca said.

"Because there are no bags designed for toddlers, as mothers, we've had to improvise," Vacca said. "Some use generic diaper bags, tote bags, reusable shopping bags, fanny packs or pants with a lot of pockets. The problem with that is it doesn't organize the gear."

The Mindibag — the name derives from miniature diaper bag — has been designed to carry just the essentials and to replace the oversize diaper bag many moms carry.

"It's about downsizing and simplifying your life," she said. "If you spend two minutes packing, it will save you hours hunting for things later."

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