Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Car Seat Safety Away from Home

It's no secret that we at Travel-Tot feel strongly about childproofing hotel rooms and other away-from-home lodging accommodations; but what about keeping your child safe while you are in transit?  Often families get so caught up in the planning, packing, and preparations for a family getaway that they don't remember that their mode of transportation may not already be child-safe.  Airplanes, taxis, and loaner vehicles are rarely equipped with properly installed safety devices; so what is a parent to do?

Bringing your own car seat or booster is one option!  There have been great strides made in developing safety seats that can be easily transported when not in use.  For example, The Car Seat Lady recommends several fabulous options ranging from infant carriers that easily snap to compact strollers to combination stroller car seat/booster options.  These are great because they not only offer a safer seating option for flights or other vehicular transport, but they can be rolled (with a child it in!) through expansive airports or along sidewalks to taxi or bus depots; freeing up parental hands, and saving backs and sanity! 

If you forget or cannot bring your own car seat or booster, rental car seats are another option.  If the taxi or rental car agency offers to provide a safety restraint seat for your child, be certain to check that it is appropriate for your child's age, weight, and height.  Also be certain it is properly installed and that it is in working order with no broken straps or latches.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website provides a fabulous page with age-appropriate safety seat guidelines if you are unsure of what type of seat to request.

The emergency-only option for families travelling with a child is to use whatever safety feature is available (usually a lap and/or shoulder belt).  While it is true that any restraint is better than no restraint at all, using a safety belt alone on a young child is a last resort option and should never be done if an appropriate car seat or booster seat can be obtained.  If you are in a situation where there is no option other than to use a standard seat belt, there are several important steps you can take to ensure that the restraint offers the best protection it can:
  • Never buckle more than one person into a car seat belt.  Buckling more than once person into a car seat presents the risk of the top person being fatally crushed in the event of a crash. 
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm of a passenger.
  • Be vigilant about seat belt use for everyone riding in the vehicle; studies have shown that restrained passengers are 4 times more likely to die if someone else in the car is not restrained.
Used properly, car seats and seatbelts save lives... a little planning and research can provide you with the knowledge you need to determine which option will best suit your unique needs. Safe travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Boutique of the Week: USA Baby & Child Space!

This week, we're heading down to the Lone Star State for our featured boutique: USA Baby & Child Space, Houston!   With two locations in the greater Houston area, USA Baby & Child Space is a specialty baby and teen furniture store, and so much more!  From nurseries to children's furniture, they offer affordable and elite designer styles that fit any family budget.  But USA Baby & Child Space is more than just a furniture store; it's one-stop super shop!  With a broad range of products, from strollers and car seats to solutions for childproofing and fussy sleepers; they are a parent's dream!

Part of a nationwide chain (with 60 locations throughout the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico), USA Baby & Child Space, Houston is family owned and operated.  As part of a larger organization, they are able to expand their reach by offering a convenient nationwide shower registry and a centralized return policy.  They take great pride in their expertly trained sales team and strive to deliver the kind of customer service that new parents expect; and to be the low price leader with the best choices in products from around the world!

With so many years of experience, such a wide variety of furniture in stock, and so much product knowledge, their sales staff is able to find a solution for almost every need; but they do acknowledge that sometimes ordering delays are beyond their control.  To avoid frustration and headache, they offer the below advice:
  1. Start shopping for furniture well in advance.  The more time on your side, the less worries you will have if you need to order pieces.
  2. Have a back up plan! Pick a bassinet, cradle or mini-crib to use for the first few weeks. Doing so, may save you time if any problems arise with your furniture order.
  3. Consider taking advantage of the furniture available in stock; 80% of the time, USA Baby & Child Space has full collections available for purchase and same day take home.
  4. Keep an open mind! There are many different styles of furniture, in a wide variety of colors and prices. One of their expert sale associates will help you find one that matches your d├ęcor or style.
  5. If you already have some furniture and wish to try and match remaining pieces, bring a drawer or small piece (knob, etc.) to ensure a good color match.
USA Baby & Child Space is open seven days a week, with flexible hours that can accommodate even the most demanding schedule.  What differentiates them most from their competitors, however, is their on-site warehouse, which is also open seven days a week!  They even accept orders via phone!  All this, plus  price matches with local competitors, free six month layaway, and a terrific rewards program makes USA Baby & Child Space a perfect choice for everyone from first-time parents, to growing families!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Destination: Williamsburg, VA!

Family fun is in large supply in Williamsburg, Virginia!  Located approximately 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., Williamsburg boasts two major theme parks (Busch Gardens and Water Country USA) and a world of historical attractions.  With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that it has become a family hot-spot!

With over twenty rides, loads of shows and attractions, a variety of dining options and impeccably kept grounds, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a veritable paradise for travelling families!  Divided into multiple European-themed sections, Busch Gardens features a variety of attractions from cultural experiences and animal encounters, to seasonal shows and rides for children of all ages! Their newest addition, "Sesame Street: Forest of Fun" features family-friendly rides, playgrounds and even a 4-D Sesame Street movie!  Also, each year from late November through New Year's Eve, Busch Gardens transforms the park for its annual Christmas Town Celebration; featuring special holiday shows, attractions, and  rides!  Opening hours and offerings vary seasonally, so be sure to check the website for details!

If you're looking for a water park adventure during the warmer weather months, Water Country USA is nothing short of a watery fantasy land!  From May to early September, slide, splash and swim at this great water park featuring acres of rides for children and families. Shoot down any number of adrenaline-rush-inducing slides, relax at the Aquabatics high-dive and gymnastics show, splash and play in your choice of three water play stations designed for younger children, or just float around in the lazy river.  There's something for everyone!  Again, opening hours vary seasonally, so check the website for more details.

For a glimpse of colonial America, don't miss downtown Colonial Williamsburg.  Offering a variety of family-oriented programs year-round, the historical district features a tour with many stops designed especially to appeal to families with young children; from the Wig Maker's Shop to the Blacksmith, you'll be treated to numerous demonstrations and programs by actors bedecked in colonial garb!  History truly springs to life in Williamsburg, in ways that get little minds working!   Check out their Family Fun Itinerary for some great ideas and must-see attractions!

Williamsburg is within easy driving distance from most mid-Atlantic states, and can be reached via air or rail for families travelling from more remote locations.  The area also features a variety of lodging options, from Bed and Breakfasts to hotels and motels - there's something for every budget and comfort need!  Discover Williamsburg - a charming, timeless, fun-filled family vacation spot!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Travel for Kids – Know Before You Go!

Planning a family trip can often seem overwhelming.  Between the logistics of determining where to go, how to get there, what to be pack, where to stay, and what activities will work for everyone, it can be difficult to remember that the ultimate goal is family fun!  Thankfully, there is Travel for Kids, the premier site for planning family trips! 

Whether you plan to drive to a neighboring state, take the train cross country, or visit a foreign land - Travel for Kids can provide you with invaluable trip planning information.  From tips and hotel recommendations to must-see attractions and travel-specific book recommendations for kids, Travel for Kids is your one-stop-information shop!  They have even recently added a mobile version of the site offering easy access and navigation for small-screen devices such as smartphones (Blackberry, Droid, iPhone, etc.), just enter the URL and bookmark: travelforkids.mobi.

Founded by Elizabeth Young, Travel for Kids is a wealth of information for the travelling family!  With her experience and passion for travel, as well as a background in technology, Elizabeth felt that blogging was the most logical outlet for sharing the benefit of her experience, and those of others, with the world of travelling families!

As a graduate student in anthropology, Elizabeth travelled extensively throughout the world; her first trip abroad with her boys was to Bali, where she had lived and done research. From there they went to India, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos; they visited Maya ruins in Central America, wildlife in Costa Rica, and Panama. Indeed, Elizabeth is so passionate about travel that one fall when her kids were in elementary school, she took them out to live in Amsterdam and travel throughout Europe!

Travel for Kids marries Elizabeth's personal knowledge and experiences with the resources of a variety of partners, including: Amazon.com, Italy Perfect, Advanced Reservations Systems, Hotels.com, Best Western Hotels, HotelClub, Backroads, Journeys International, Booking.com, Paris Muse, CityPass, ReserveAmerica, Classic Journeys, Thomson Family Adventures, Conciergerie.com, Venere, G.A.P Adventures, Wildland Adventures, and Go Card USA.  This amalgam is made even more valuable by the inclusion of hand-selected staff-recommended children's books for each featured destination, as well as monthly-selected "books for everywhere," which reach beyond a single country!

Combining fun things to do with practical tips, best bets for family hotels, and recommendations for children's books about destinations all over the world, Travel for Kids is a must-read blog for any family planning a trip... or even those just dreaming of one! 

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Big Family Fun on a Small Budget!

With the recession in full swing, families are getting creative; finding ways to escape the mundane by taking "staycations" and "facations!"  What, you may ask, are staycations and facations?  According to several families we spoke to, they are budget-friendly alternatives to traditional getaways! 

The "staycation" can be anything from a camp-out in your own backyard, to a few days of day-tripping and local touring/sightseeing, or just relaxing and doing nothing at all in the comfort of your own home; the name of the game is having fun without the expense of leaving home for an overnight stay.  Many families set certain rules when they decide to take a staycation, including:
  • turning off the ringer on their home phones,
  • limiting access to the internet for recreational purposes only, 
  • not doing errands or tasks for work,
  • having meals in non-traditional locations (picnics, local restaurants, or a casual TV dinner)
  • allowing time for spontaneous activity (bowling, movies, skating, family game night, etc.).
The "facation" usually has a slightly higher pricetag, but is still far more reasonable than a traditional vacation, especially if you take the time to research such sites as RetailMeNot for great coupons and discounts!  Facations generally include at least one overnight stay at a local hotel or motel, and most of the facationers we spoke to mentioned that they looked for amenities such as an indoor pool, room service, spa, or onsite restaurant.  The facation is a way to indulge and escape the trappings of home, if only for a night or two, and to enjoy the luxury of a meal out, a dip in the pool, or maybe even a spa treatment!  The facation is a popular add-on to the staycation, especially in cold weather months when access to a pool is a true novelty!

Like a traditional vacation, an alternative escape should be carefully planned; ask all family members for ideas, with the understanding that not all ideas will necessarily be feasible.  Budgeting for a facation or staycation is also important; decide ahead of time where you want to use your available funds (a movie, a meal out, sightseeing, a family activity, etc.).  Once you have these details nailed down, get to work planning your adventure!  Remember, no matter what your budget, with a little research and creativity, your family can enjoy a great escape together making fun memories that will last a lifetime!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Boutique of the Week: Magic Beans!

With four locations in the greater Boston area, Magic Beans is the brainchild of husband and wife team Eli and Sheri Gurock. The Gurocks visualized a retail experience "designed for kids and optimized for parents... that would balance the fresh and new with the tried and true."  And so in 2004, they founded Magic Beans, a unique boutique offering everything from baby gear and modern nursery furniture to a handpicked selection of toys for all ages!

The Gurocks understand that their customers represent a broad spectrum of parenting philosophies, and tailor their product selection accordingly.  They actively seek out toys that inspire creative interactions and  imagination.  They also put a great deal of thought into their selection of baby gear and nursery furniture, relying on their own experience and the feedback of other parents to determine what products will best meet the needs of their clientele. 

But Magic Beans is more than just a retail store - it's a community touchstone!  Each Magic Beans location boasts a "Playscape" where their youngest customers can relax and sample the store's wares, and many of the stores offer unique in-store events ranging from storytime to crafts activities to Stroller Speed Dating!

Eli and Sheri are proud of their extensive knowledge of the products they carry; from strollers and car seats, to toys and travel gear.  They carry items from a wide variety of companies and endeavor to help their customers make decisions that will best suit their individual needs.  They believe that customer service is of paramount importance and welcome feedback on customer experience at Magic Beans, as well as ideas for how they can do even better!  Indeed, they are so committed to customer service that they offer personal attention via e-mail regarding consumer's experience and feedback.

So, if you find yourself in the greater Boston area, check out Magic Beans at one of their four fabulous locations: Brookline, Cambridge, Hingham, and Wellesley!  You'll instantly understand why they have garnered so much praise and a reputation for excellence!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Destination - Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, PA!

Great Wolf Lodge is North America's Largest Family of Indoor Waterpark resorts, with locations in PA, VA, NC, OH, MI, WI, KS, TX, WA, and Niagra Falls, Canada!  Conveniently located about one hour west of New York City, nestled in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, sits one of their fabulous properties, boasting a wide range of activities guaranteed to provide a fun and exciting experience for children and adults alike! 

Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos is best known for its spacious indoor waterpark called Fort Mackenzie™.  The park features a virtual wonderland of water fun; with a wide variety of slides, a lazy river, a tidal pool, a kiddie pool, and activity pool, two hot-tubs, and a four-story structure featuring suspension bridges and cargo nets, spray stations, and soaker buckets. The grand daddy of soaker buckets is the 1,000-gallon tipper that sits atop the Fort - every few minutes, the warning bell clangs, and the bucket dumps its contents over the roof and onto the giggling group below!

But the fun doesn't end there!  The whole Lodge is geared toward providing a spectacular family adventure! 

The cozy lobby of the Lodge features an animatronic show that captures the imagination of young visitors with a 10-minute show during which the characters sing songs about nature.  Gather in front of the Great Clock Tower™ to see the characters magically come to life each morning at 10 a.m. and again at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.; show up in your PJs for the 8 p.m. show and stick around for story time in front of the great fireplace right afterward!

Younger visitors will also enjoy the Cub Club™; offering special programs that teach kids about nature and the creatures of the Northwoods.  The Cub Club™ is also a great place to create a craft or souvenir to take home as a keepsake!

Children of all ages will get a thrill out of Great Wolf Lodge's live-action adventure game, Magic Quest®! Armed with high-tech wands, families race around to solve magical challenges throughout the resort to gain powers (and points) and move to higher levels of the game! 

Older kids will enjoy the Northern Lights Arcade and the gr8_space.  The arcade houses over a hundred games different games, and the gr8-space features computers with teen-conscious internet access, docking stations for ipods and mp3 players, as well as multiple gaming stations for those who strive to win one of the resort's contests. The gr8_space is the premier spot to play games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band and sing some karaoke! 

A new highlight at the Pocono's Great Wolf Lodge is the Race Zone!  Have fun designing and building your own remote control vehicle (choice of color, color of the wheel, and one of three different body styles).  Then test your design by racing it on our indoor race track! You even get to create your own drivers license!  

The Poconos Great Wolf Lodge also features a wide variety of dining options (ranging from take-away and snack bars to sit-down restaurants),  an indoor gym, and two spas; one for the adults and one for kids!  Have a few questions about Great WOlf?  Check out their Ask-A-Mom page, conveniently offering information on a broad range of topics, and organized by location!

The fun never ends at Great Wolf Lodge - check out their website to sign-up for special rates and discounts!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where There's Smoke...

Fires are the fifth most common cause of accidental death in the U.S. (CDC 2005), killing more than 4,000 Americans each year.   Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented if only a few simple preventative measures had been taken. Detection devices and a well-rehearsed escape plan could be the difference between life and death, so be sure to share these guidelines with your family:

Detection:

Smoke detectors can save lives; but only if they work and can be heard. 
  • Be sure to place smoke detectors on every level of your home, and especially in sleeping areas. 
  • Smoke rises, so alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings according to package instructions.
  • Be sure to change batteries twice a year; many people choose to do it the weekend of the switch from standard time to daylight-savings time, and vice-versa so they don't forget!
  • Test each smoke alarm in your home on a monthly basis to make sure the device is functioning properly.
  • Smoke detectors are not meant to last forever: detectors should be replaced at least every ten years.
  • When you purchase an alarm, look for the ETL, UL, or CSA mark on the box; this certifies that the alarm has been lab-tested for safety.
 Escape:

If a fire occurs in your home, detection alone is not enough. Your family should have a Fire Escape Plan to ensure the safety of all family members. 
  • Practice the escape plan during both daylight hours and after dark.  
  • If your residence is more than one story in height, keep a fire escape ladder in or near each bedroom above the ground floor. 
  • If you live in a multiple-story dwelling and have an infant or young child who may not be able to negotiate a ladder, you should consider investing in a Baby Rescue; this flame-retardant, ventilated bag with a 50-foot-long tether is designed to allow you to get your kids out of the window and lower them down outside the building to safety.  It is patented by Safety International, LLC and approved for children weighing up to 75lbs.
  • Be sure to stress to all family members that in the event of a fire, no one should try to save valuables; doing so could cost them their life.
Be sure to visit the U.S. Fire Administration homepage for additional information regarding fire safety.  They have a vast collection of information, including Kids Pages, Fire Statistics, Prevention Campaigns, and a searchable listing of Fire-Safe Hotels/Motels

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Winter is on its way, and that means more time hunkering down indoors and trying to stay warm. But snuggling up with a warm mug of hot chocolate isn’t always going to be enough! According to the CDC, young children and the elderly are disproportionately affected by hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter months. Often this results from failure to prepare for weather-related emergencies or improper maintenance of heating systems. The checklist below contains a few crucial steps that you can take now to help prepare your family for whatever this winter may bring.

•   Check your home’s heating systems:
    o   Make sure that all heating systems are clean, working properly,
         and vented to the outside.
    o   Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
    o   Install smoke detectors and test batteries monthly.
    o   Have a safe back-up heating source and fuel.
    o   Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies by installing a carbon
         monoxide detector, being aware of and alert for the symptoms of
         carbon monoxide poisoning, and keeping generators and grills out 
         of the house.

•   Prepare for weather-related emergencies and power outages:
  o   Stow a broom and a shovel in a handy spot (for clearing away
       leaves/snow from walkways/driveways and low lying vents).
  o   Stock a supply of food that does not require cooking or
       refrigeration and water.
  o   Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
      -   battery-operated flashlights, radios, and lamps;
      -   spare batteries;
      -   a stocked first-aid kit and extra medicine;
      -   baby items (i.e. jar foods, powdered formula, etc.); and
      -   rock salt, cat litter, or sand for icy walkways.

You'll all enjoy snuggling up together indoors a little more if you know you've done everything you can to plan ahead for the safety and comfort of your family, should an emergency arise!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Safety Tips!

For kids everywhere, autumn events like Halloween and Harvest Festivals are fun times to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, and eat yummy treats. To help make the festivities fun and safe for your little ghosts and goblins, remind them to keep these tips in mind:

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to increase your visibility.
Avoid dimly lit areas; concentrate instead on well lit neighborhoods.
Look both ways before crossing the street and use crosswalks.
Limit the amount of treats you eat.
Only walk on sidewalks to stay safe.
Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes.
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them!
Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult!
Never walk near lit candles. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Swords and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
All young children should be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to increase visibility.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats.
Town curfews should be observed.
You should stick to a well-travelled route, avoid alleys and open fields.

Take a cell phone in case of emergencies.
If weather is unseasonably cool, layer warm clothes under costumes.
Plan the route ahead of time and set a return time.
Stick to those houses where the residents are known and lights are on!

Have a safe, happy, and healthy Halloween!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Destination - Disney!

It's no secret that Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a favorite family destination!  From the rides and attractions to the magic of watching your child immersed in a wonderland of their favorite characters - it is a vacation spot where magical memories are made!  With a wide variety of parks to explore, Disney World truly has something for everyone!  There are six parks (four theme parks and two water parks) within the Disney complex: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon.  Within each park await enough adventures to fill a whole day; from safaris and thrilling rides, to amazing performances and fantastic beaches, there is something for every visitor, young or old! 

Even the hotels on the Disney properties are designed with family fun in mind, offering delicious food, swimming and wading pools, and chances to meet many of their favorite characters!   Featuring a wide variety of price points and accommodation styles (from deluxe resorts to camp grounds!), all Disney properties also offer easy access to the parks via boat, monorail, and bus - some resorts are even within walking distance!

A well-kept secret, however, is that one of the best times to visit Florida's Walt Disney World (especially if you are travelling with more than one child or young children) is mid- to late-fall!  Not only is the weather still warm and pleasant, but once school begins, the parks become far less crowded and far more friendly for those wishing to minimize long lines and wait times!  In addition, every year from early October to mid-November, Walt Disney World plays host to a number of special events; including the Magic Kingdom's "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party," Epcot's "International Food and Wine Festival," Hollywood Studios' "Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights," and Downtown Disney's "Festival of the Masters."   With the exception of the "Halloween Party," all these events are either complimentary or included in the price of the park pass! 

Here are a few tips and pointers from seasoned veterans for "Experiencing the Magic" of Disney, whether for a day trip or a week-long stay:
  1. Do the research - check out package deals, discounts, and special offers before booking - Disney frequently runs such promotions and you can save some serious cash by taking advantage of them!
  2. Plan ahead! Be sure to select parks and attractions that will best meet the interests of your family prior to arriving - once you get there, it is easy to become overwhelmed by how much there is to see and do.  If you already have a list of things you know you want to do, it is easier to build your days and add in things you may not have known about ahead of time!  Also, if you are traveling with young children, be aware that some rides have height requirements, and may have long wait times during peak park hours.
  3. Consider upgrading from a Magic Your Way Base Park Ticket to a Park-Hopper pass, which allows you to visit as many parks as you wish in any given day.
  4. For the best in convenience, value, and comfort, check out Orlando Stroller Rentals.  OSR provides a stroller-rental service complete with delivery to Orlando-area hotels and is proud to be the only stroller-rental company recommended by the Disney Moms Panel!  Their roomy and comfortable strollers (single or double) are available for prices far below those of the Disney Parks; so save yourself the hassle of dragging your stroller through the airport, and save your child the discomfort of the hard plastic stollers available for rental within the Disney Parks - check out Orlando Stroller Rentals - you'll be glad you did!
  5. Consider packing snacks and water for your park trips - the parks don't prohibit such items and having them on hand can help avoid melt-downs and extra expenses!  They do inspect bags and strollers prior to park entry, but only as a safety measure.
  6. Finally, talk to friends and family who have made the trip - ask them for advice, tips, and tricks!  You can also find additional advice and support on the Disney webpage, including a searchable collection of questions answered by Disney's Mom's Panel
Happy Travels!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Out and About: Separation Anxiety!

According to the Center to Prevent Lost Children, 90% of parents will experience losing a child in a public place, yet fewer than 1 in 10 parents put some form of identification on their child. As any parent can tell you, it takes no more than a few seconds for a child to wander out of eyesight and potentially into danger. Before the age of three many children do not know their full names, their parent’s names, phone numbers, addresses, medical conditions, or allergies. If they were to become separated from their parent, they would have no way to communicate this information in an emergency or to help locate their mother, father or other caregiver.

Thankfully, there are some terrific products that can help ease your worries and ensure that your child is carrying identification and contact information if you happen to become separated. We at Travel-Tot simply love the following products:

The Kids Travel Card: Child Safety ID Cards help authorities easily and quickly establish positive identification of your child. The KidsTravelCard contains your name and contact telephone numbers, an additional emergency contact with relationship and phone number, your child's specific personal information, as well as any vital personal or medical information you feel might be important to include. The card can even be customized with "trip specific" information! Four removable adhesive labels come with the Photo ID badge where you can write information for a specific event and then remove the label afterwards. Each KidsTravelCard comes with a soft cloth "break-away" lanyard for comfort and safety. For more information click here.

Safety Identification Tags by Think in a Blink: Flexible, water-proof, safety identification tags can be fastened to a child's shoes, jacket zipper, bathing suits, belt loop etc. Simply write an emergency number on the back of the tag with permanent marker. Think in a Blink Safety ID tags "empowers" your child with the information they need to be reunited immediately with their caregiver. For more information check out this link.

Wearable ID Products by My Precious Kid: This company carries a wide variety of wearable identification products (everything from bracelets and shoe tags to dog tags). They also feature a number of electronic child locator devices. For more information click here.

Wearable ID Products and Parking Pal Magnet by Chicks and Cubs: This company carries an extensive line of wearable identification products (everything from bracelets and shoe tags to dog tags). They also feature The Parking Pal Magnet, which works great to aid you in your child's safety in parking lots. Telling a child to keep his or her hand on the magnetic hand can give you the chance to get things out of the car or put things in without them running into the roadway. For more information go to their website.

BrickHouse Child Locator by BrickHouse Security: The BrickHouse Child Locator gives parents piece of mind in a way that simply has not been possible before. The instant your loved one wanders too far, the hand-held locator will instantly notify you with loud beeping, vibration and directional guidance all at once. Perfect for younger or special-needs children, helps take the weight of worry off your shoulders by alerting you the second they wander - not a moment too late. As an added precaution, a Panic Tag with new "click" technology is included for your child to press alerting you they feel in danger.

Safety Tattoos by Safety Tat: SafetyTat is a fun and colorful kids temporary safety tattoo. When applied to the arm of your child or loved one, SafetyTat provides a highly visible form of identification that stays in place even when wet! Check out their website for more information. 

Travel-Tot also loves this tip submitted by a longtime friend and nurse: Put a blank label with emergency contact info on bucket car seats in case you are ever in an accident with your infant. That way a loved one can be called to take care of your child rather than social services in the event that you are incapacitated.


All of these products and suggestions give your child a “voice” in the event that you become separated, which can not only help ease anxiety, but which can facilitate a quick and safe return!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Child-Proofing Away From Home

Traveling is one of life’s greatest joys; pair that with the natural curiosity of a toddler and you have the recipe for a potentially fantastic adventure! However, while sharing the traveling experience with your child can certainly add to the thrill of the journey, it can also be stressful. Investing just a bit of time to make certain that your vacation accommodations will be safe for your child helps to ensure as restful, relaxing, and enjoyable a vacation as possible.

It can be a real challenge to be removed from the controlled environment of a home living space. Hotel rooms, cruise ship cabins, rental properties, and even family member’s homes often lack the basic child-proofing measures to which parents have become accustomed in their own homes. Moreover, because cleaning standards vary from place to place, there is no guarantee that objects or surfaces that the guests preceding you may have handled were properly disinfected, which could result in you or your children catching someone else’s cold, or worse.

You can easily provide a basic level of protection from many of these hazards in just minute’s time with a few simple items (like those conveniently provided in the Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit!) including; outlet covers, doorknob protectors, cord guards, door pinch guards, a bath thermometer, and safety latches.

The bottom line is that when you are traveling with a toddler, a little planning goes a long way; it could be the difference between an enjoyable vacation and a travel nightmare.

Simple Child-Proofing Measures
 
Here are some simple steps you can take to make your home-away-from-home safe and relaxing:
  • Get down on your hands and knees and explore the room from your toddler’s perspective; be sure to thoroughly check under beds and furniture for stray pills, buttons, pins, or other items that could pose a poisoning or choking hazard.
  • Use guards to tie up electrical and blind cords which can pose a choking hazard to your little explorer.
  • Secure low cabinet doors shut with pinch guards to reduce risk of injury.
  • Ensure that all locks and latches on exterior doors are in working order and secure them to prevent unsupervised access to stairs, balconies, and terraces.
  • If your little traveler is curious about the toilet, be sure to place a doorknob protector on the handle to prevent unsupervised access.
  • Sanitize surfaces, door handles, faucets, remotes, phone handsets, light switches, and any other object from which your toddler could potentially contract germs with disinfecting wipes.
  • Check water temperatures before you give your child a bath; the water may be hotter than what you are accustomed to at home and could pose a burn hazard.
  • If your toddler is a restless sleeper or is new to sleeping in a “big bed,” you may want to pack a portable guard-rail, or move the bed against a wall and use a chair along the open side to prevent a fall.
  • Finally, be sure to arrange the furniture in a way that allows for some play space; a room full of “no-nos” will result in a bored and irritated toddler, which will lead to a stressed and anxious parent!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lightening the Load

Packing for a family getaway can be overwhelming, particularly if you have toddlers and young children in tow. Even if you successfully manage to remember everything you will need, fitting it all into a vehicle or lugging it all through an airport and checking it for a flight can be difficult, expensive, and time consuming.

Instead of bringing along everything you will need, consider renting large items (strollers, car seats, high chairs, etc.) when you arrive at your destination. The largest baby and child equipment rental service in the US today is Baby’s Away.  You can also find an extensive list of independent local vendors here (covers all 50 states and Washington DC as well as Canada). An additional benefit of renting equipment is that it gives you an opportunity to try out items you may not yet own, but are thinking of purchasing (such as premium jogging strollers, exersaucers, or jumpers).

In addition, some hotels will actually provide cribs, bedding, and collapsible play yards upon request. Check with your hotel to see what custom accommodations are available!

For the ultimate in convenience, consider using a company like Jet Set Babies to have your baby essentials (diapers, wipes, bath essentials, food, booster seats, portable beds, etc.) shipped directly to your hotel. This will reduce your luggage load which could save you on excessive airline baggage fees! 

Gear Recommendations by Age:

This checklist is courtesy of Baby Travel Pros and is meant only to be a guide, use your judgment when determining what items you will require and always check that the child using the equipment meets all height an weight requirements of the manufacturer:

Birth to 4 months
  • infant car seat and compatible stroller,
  • pack-n-play or crib,
  • glider or rocking chair,
  • bouncer or swing,
  • infant tub
4 months to 1 year
  • infant car seat, or rear facing car seat (check weight & height recommendations),
  • stroller,
  • pack-n-play or crib,
  • mobile,
  • exersaucer, jumper, or walker,
  • infant or toddler tub,
  • room monitor,
  • high chair or bumbo with tray
1 year to 2 years
  • forward or rear facing toddler car seat (the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends leaving children in rear-facing car seats until 2 years of age),
  • stroller,
  • crib,
  • safety gates,
  • room monitor,
  • high chair
2+ years
  • forward facing car seat or booster seat (3+ years),
  • stroller,
  • crib, toddler bed or bed rails,
  • safety gates,
  • room monitor,
  • step stool or potty chair,
  • high chair or booster seat
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Emergency Preparedness - CPR

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is an emergency response measure combining mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with chest compressions. CPR may be necessary during many different emergencies, including accidents, near-drowning, suffocation, poisoning, overdose, smoke inhalation, electrocution, and suspected heart attack or even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

All parents should know how and when to administer CPR. Performed correctly, CPR can save a child's life by restoring breathing and blood flow until advanced life support can be given by medical professionals.  Anyone responsible for the care of others should take a course to gain hands-on experience and a comprehensive understanding of the technique. If CPR is needed, performing the technique with proper form will give someone the best chance of recovery.

CPR is most successful when administered as soon as possible, but it is important to first determine if it is necessary. CPR should only be performed when a person isn't breathing or circulating blood adequately. In such cases, CPR can restore circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Without oxygen, permanent brain damage or death can occur in less than 8 minutes.

Nearby hospitals, fire departments, and your local chapters of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross are good sources for finding a CPR course in your area. Qualified instructors may demonstrate proper technique using a combination of videos, printed materials, and infant-, child-, and adult-sized practice mannequins.

Bottom line: being CPR-trained could help you save your child's - or someone else's - life.

CPR Basics:

Before performing CPR, determine that you can safely approach the victim, quickly evaluate whether the person is responsive, and check if the victim is breathing. If you are unable determine whether someone is breathing, you should begin CPR and continue until help arrives.

The three basic parts of CPR are easily remembered as Call, Blow, and Pump.

1. Call

Check the victim for unresponsiveness. If there is no response, Call 911 and return to the victim. In most locations the emergency dispatcher can assist you with CPR instructions.

2. Blow

Tilt the head back and listen for breathing.  If not breathing normally, check that the airway is clear, pinch nose and cover the mouth with yours and blow until you see the chest rise. Give 2 breaths.  Each breath should take 1 second.

3. Pump

If the victim is still not breathing normally, coughing or moving, begin chest compressions.  Push down on the chest 1½ to 2 inches 30 times right between the nipples.  Pump at the rate of 100/minute, faster than once per second.

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eating Tips for On-The-Road

Whether it’s seafood in New England, Tex-Mex in California, or the Creole stylings of Louisiana, food can be a fun and exciting way to savor the flavor of your vacation destination! However, to ensure that your family stays healthy and safe on the road, is important to remember that moderation is key, as is maintaining a balanced diet, and being aware of possible allergies or hazardous foods.

While it would be a shame to not explore local cuisine on the road, it is important to remember that you don’t want to go overboard. It is generally accepted that several smaller meals throughout the day can help you to maintain your energy level and help curb binging at traditionally designated meal times. So instead of sitting down to a large meal with an appetizer and dessert, consider trying a local favorite in snack size instead!

In addition, children and adults alike benefit from nutritional balance, so make an effort to keep meals as healthy and balanced as you can while travelling. Try to incorporate fruits and veggies as often as possible, opt for baked, steamed, or broiled dishes over fried foods, and be sure to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. With just a little planning, you can enjoy regional favorites in moderation and ensure that the food you are eating provides you with the energy you’ll need to explore the other exciting adventures that await you!

It is also important to remember that when travelling with very young children, there may be some foods that should be avoided until you are certain no allergies exist. The following eight common allergens account for 90% of all reactions in kids: milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Also, children under one year should not be exposed to honey as it can cause a form of food poisoning called botulism.

These tips can help ensure that you and your children stay healthy and energized while enjoying all the fascinating things your vacation destination offers! Happy travels!

Nutrition Notes:

Both children and adults benefit from a well-balanced diet including a few servings each of the five main food groups (grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy, protein and healthy fats). Children have different nutritional requirements based on age, below are some guidelines by age range:

1. Toddlers (ages 1-2)

Grains (3 servings, preferably half of which should be unrefined), fruits and vegetables (4 servings, for the greatest benefit, divide evenly), dairy (2-3 servings, preferably low fat), protein (2 servings, preferably lean), healthy fats (3 servings).

2. Preschoolers (ages 3-4)

Grains (4-5 servings), fruits and vegetables (4–6 servings), dairy (3-4 servings), protein (2-4 servings), healthy fats (3-4 servings).

3. School-aged children (ages 5-8)

Grains (4-5 servings), fruits and vegetables (5-7 servings), dairy (4 servings), protein (3-5 servings), healthy fats (4-5 servings).

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September is Baby Safety Month!

Each September, the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA) sponsors a campaign called “Baby Safety Month!” This September, JMPA is spreading the word about the importance of creating a safe sleeping environment for your child. We at Travel-Tot couldn’t agree more! JMPA features some brilliant advice on their webpage (click here), including links to crib selection criteria, the “back to sleep” initiative (positioning sleeping children on their backs), and bedding suggestions.

Travel-Tot also wants to encourage you to be vigilant in assuring that these same standards are met when you are away from home. Be sure to either bring your own portable sleeping environment (pack-n-play, bassinet, etc.) and bedding (sheets, sleeping pads, etc.), or be prepared to thoroughly inspect the “borrowed” furniture available at your hotel. Always check to be sure the crib available has not been recalled, that it is JMPA approved, and that it is in good condition. A few quick guidelines to keep in mind can be found at here. If the crib offered by the hotel does not pass muster, ask for a different crib. Do NOT be afraid of offending or annoying hotel staff; they are there to serve you and to provide a safe environment for all their customers, even those who have no voice of their own!
Warm wishes for a safe and healthy September!

- Destination Mom