Friday, December 30, 2011

Childproofing Your Hotel Room!

Family get-aways are supposed to be fun, memory-making adventures, yet each year countless toddlers and young children sustain serious injuries while on vacation; sadly, these accidents often could have been prevented with just a few minutes attention and a few easy-to-install childproofing devices. The Travel-Tot team is dedicated to providing parents with the tools and information they need to make vacation stays safer and  more relaxing; so we are pleased to offer this quick, easy checklist of tips for childproofing your home-away-from-home (down-loadable checklist available here!):
  • It is CRITICAL to visually inspect each part of your room thoroughly from the vantage point of your child.  Get down low: look beneath and behind furniture, drapes, sinks, toilets, and heaters for loose pills, pins, or other overlooked items that could pose a choking or poisoning hazard - you may be surprised what you find.
  • Call the front desk to see if you could have decorative items (floral arrangements, statuary, bowls of potpourri, etc.) removed from the room (or simply gather them yourself and put them somewhere where little hands cannot reach them).
  • Bring and install childproofing devices (such as those found in the Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit).
    • Secure blind cords.
    • Keep low cabinet doors shut with straps.
    • Secure corner guards onto furniture.
    • Place pinch guards on interior swinging doors.
    • Install guards on interior sliding doors.
    • Insert outlet covers into unused outlets.
    • If your little traveler is curious about the toilet, be sure to place a doorknob protector on the handle or install a locking strap if the door has a lever handle.
  • 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.
  • Keep all furniture away from doors and windows to prevent access to locks and accidental falls.
  • Arrange furniture to allow for some safe, open play space.
  • Keep cribs away from curtains and tables.  Drapes, curtains, lamps, and other electrical devices can be deadly if pulled into crib by a baby or young child.
  • For all cribs: remove pillows, toys, or blankets that may cause suffocation or strangulation.
    If you use a hotel-provided crib be sure it is up to standards with the Consumer Product Safety Commission: slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart and all sides should be fixed (no drop sides).
  • Unplug electrical appliances and store in a locked drawer or cabinet.
  • Store personal care items out of the reach of children. Use a  hanging toiletry bag and lock it inside the closet hanging up high out of the reach of little hands…it’s not just medications that have to be stored out of reach of children, many cosmetics can be toxic.
The fifteen minutes takes to inspect and childproof your guest room could be the difference between a fun-filled day of frolicking and spending your precious vacation time in the Emergency Room. While no childproofing devices or efforts are a substitute for vigilant parental supervision, installing just a few childproofing mechanisms (such as those found in the Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit) can considerably decrease the odds of your children injuring themselves on unsecured doors, outlets, drawers, sharp corners, or loose cords. These simple steps can not only help make your home-away-from-home safer, but can create a more relaxing space for everyone!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

Pack your cosmetics and other toiletries in a hanging bag and hang the bag out of reach in a locked closet to help prevent curious little hands from getting into trouble; many cosmetics and toiletries can be toxic if ingested.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Closing the Generation Gap!

image courtesy of phanlop88/
"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."

- Desmond Tutu
Family is our past, present and future - and, particularly at the holidays, it is so important to bring the generations together to share the laughter and love that such closeness often evokes.  Whether your children's grandparents live close-by or half-way across the world, the relationships they have with your children can be very special!  Grandparents possess a breadth of experience and knowledge (not to mention some great childhood anecdotes about you or your spouse!) that can captivate the minds of children of all ages. 

No matter how often your children visit with their grandparents, try and make their time together as memorable and enjoyable as possible.  It may require a bit of work on your part, and maybe even a little flexibility, but watching your parents or in-laws truly connect with your children is priceless. Below are a few tips for making fond memories for both your children and their grandparents:
  • Play to your parent's (or in-law's) strengths - try to "casually arrange" opportunities for activities both they and your children will enjoy (i.e. games, picnics, fishing with grandpa, crafting with grandma, etc.).
  • Be flexible - while your children's safety must always come first, allow for a few small concessions or departures from your usual routine (extra treats, missed naps, over-the-top silliness, etc.).
  • Wax nostalgic - ask your parents or in-laws to share stories from their youth; share old photos, paper clippings, or letters.
  • Share your heritage - have your children learn about their family's customs and traditions!  Arrange to have your children and their grandparents: make a favorite ethnic dish together, learn a favorite traditional song or dance, share a folk-tale or story.
  • Alone time - if you, your children, and your parents (or in-laws) are comfortable with the idea, consider allowing your children to "sleep-over" at their grandparents.  If a sleep-over is out, try to plan some time when your kids and their grandparents can visit alone (without you hovering over them!) - sometimes it is easier for people to be themselves when they don't feel they have an audience.
Family is precious; and sharing time, experiences, and heritage across the generations is a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime - especially during the holidays!  If possible, try to capture some of those laughs and interactions on film and video, so you can all enjoy them for years to come!

Wishing you all blessed, happy, and healthy holidays!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

Keep a small notebook in your diaper bag or purse - you never know when your child might say something priceless and this way you can capture the memory forever!  Try to remember to record the date and anyone who was involved in the exchange!  These snippets make a particularly fun read when your children bring home potential suitors later in life!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Preparation; Reducing Anxiety for Little Travelers!

Travel can be exciting, and sharing the adventure with your child(ren) can make it that much more fun! But while adults generally have some idea of what will happen on a journey, to many young children travel may be a bit intimidating. Preparing young travelers for an upcoming adventure can go a long way toward helping them get excited for the journey and enjoying the experience!

Air, water, or rail travel can be unnerving to a child who has never experienced the sounds, vibrations, and motions that adults can take for granted. Take some time to show your child a model (or the real thing if it is locally available for viewing!) of whatever mode of transportation you will be using. Discuss what they can expect, keeping things simple and offering them reassurance that you will be with them at all times and that there is nothing they need to fear.

A few weeks before you hit the road, try to get your little adventurers excited about the place you're about to visit. Check out maps, books, newspapers, music; whatever is appropriate. Try not to make it seem like a chore, but rather a journey of it's own that will give them a chance to determine what they'd like to see or do when they arrive!

Picture books or videos can offer a world of information about your vacation destination, as can magazine or Internet photos of local sights they may see! If your children are old enough you can even make a game of looking at the images - asking questions such as "what do you think you can hear (or see or smell) from this spot?" If you can acquire images of actual places you are visiting, it can be great fun to bring them and try to navigate to the exact spot to experience it as a family!

image courtesy of Phaitoon/
Finally, the journey doesn't have to end when the trip comes to its inevitable conclusion - memories and impressions from the adventure can last a lifetime! Encourage older children to keep or create a travel journal chronicling their impressions of the places they visited - it doesn't have to be more than a sentence here or there, just something that will remind them of what they saw and experienced. Young children can do likewise by capturing a favorite spot or activity in a drawing!

A little planning can truly make a big difference when it comes to travelling with children. The few extra minutes you devote to introducing them to what they will be experiencing can help prevent meltdowns, panic, and worry, and the time spent exploring your vacation destination beforehand can enrich the exploration upon arrival!

Happy Travels!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

Always throw a small pack of baby wipes in your handbag - even if diaper changes are a thing of the past for you!  They are great for sanitizing little hands, surfaces, cleaning up spills, and even just "freshening up" after a long journey!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Preparedness Tips!

Winter is here, 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:
  • Make sure that all heating systems are clean, working properly, and vented to the outside.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Install smoke detectors and test batteries monthly.
  • Have a safe back-up heating source and fuel.
  • 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:
  • Stow a broom and a shovel in a handy spot (to clear leaves and snow from walkways, driveways, and low lying vents).
  • Consider investing in a generator; the upfront cost may seem high, but it can save you money in the long run by making your home habitable in case of long-term power loss, and preventing the loss of perishables.
  • Stock a supply of food that does not require cooking or refrigeration and water.
  • 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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

There are some great deals to book memorable vacations for families looking to save money on travel; try booking your next trip with a trusted online travel agency like!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Surviving a Long Flight With Children!

Young children are not generally able to sit still for long; so being restricted or confined in an aircraft for a few hours can be a recipe for disaster culminating in tantrums or crankiness, much to the embarrassment and frustration of their parents. Add to that the discomfort from the change in cabin pressure and the potential for air sickness and you have a nightmare waiting to happen. Sadly, there is no magic potion to prevent meltdowns in flight; there are, however, several things parents can do to help alleviate the severity of these issues while flying with children!

Pack & Play!

Packing a few favorite toys to keep children entertained can provide distraction and activity for several hours! Before leaving home, have each child pack a favorite toy or two. For toddlers, you may want to bring a few toys (consider wrapping each item to add to the fun and suspense). By taking the packed items out one at a time you can not only maximize the novelty of each one; you will fill more time with play, and that's the goal!

For older kids, coloring books and crayons or colored pencils can go a long way! Many airlines even offer coloring sets, puzzles, and mini games for children. If the family is visiting friends or relatives, bring along a small photo album filled with pictures of the people they will see; you can even tell stories about their houses, pets, places you will be visiting, etc.

Plug & Play!

Long distance flights generally feature childrens' programs, movies, and games on the TV screen in the back of the seat. Packing headphones will save you a few bucks, and provide hours of entertainment! Also, portable personal gaming systems (Didj, Nintendo DS, Gameboy, Sega Genesis, Playstation, etc. ) will keep many kids occupied for long stretches of time.

Managing Discomfort or Illness

Once you've provided as much distraction and activity as you can fit into one carry-on, its important to prepare for the other major hurdle you could face; sickness. Air sickness affects some children, so plan to eat far in advance of the flight's departure time. If your child should become ill, simply use the air sickness bags provided, or pack a few of your own.

Some children complain of ear pain during take-off and landing. Providing pacifiers for babies to suck on and liquids for older kids to sip and swallow can help relieve the ear pressure. For older children, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy can also help relieve the pressure. If you don't happen to remember to bring these items, the stewards or stewardesses can often get them for you. You can also purchase soft ear plugs from most pharmacies that can help both with equalizing the air pressure on each side of the ear drum and with reducing some of the noise of flying.

Your mileage with these suggestions may vary, but with a little advance planning, even the longest trip can generally be weathered with reasonably good results; think of it as a whole different way to childproof when travelling!

Happy travels!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

For longer trips, call ahead to see if your lodging provider offers laundering facilities or services - you may be able to pack less and save yourself some luggage fees if you can wash and reuse what you bring!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Boutique of the Week: My Precious Kid!

This week, Travel-Tot is proud to recognize a truly special boutique; My Precious Kid!  With a bright and inviting storefront located in picturesque Hillsboro, OR, My Precious Kid  is dedicated to child safety!
This spacious store houses hundreds of innovative products and boasts friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive staff

My Precious Kid, a sole proprietor company, was founded by Kay Green, who originally developed ID card products to fill a need for home school and adopted kids. Beginning with one product in 2001, her company now carries over 1600 products protecting kids, adults, and pets.

My Precious Kid's mission is to "Make Child Safety Easy."  To that end, the company manufactures its own ID kits and provides a wide variety of merchandise from outside manufacturers as well. Other products include ID cards, DNA and Fingerprint Kits, First Aid Kits, ID Bracelets, Shoe ID Stickers and ID Shoe Tags, Medical Records Book, Child Proofing Products, Cloth Diapers, and Travel products.

Kay Green is also a dedicated mother of four and grandmother of four, but her dedication to keeping children safe doesn't begin and end with her family or her business; Mrs. Green also shares her expertise coaching, mentoring, and working with other business women nationwide to achieve success. In addition, she hosts a blog and an online community through Facebook where parents can discuss a wide variety of topics and share their experience and concerns!

Kay Green and My Precious Kid have garnered several prestigious accolades, including: the Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award and being voted as Most Awesome Baby Boutique in the Portland area. In addition, the company's products have been mentioned on the Today Show, The View, and in numerous magazines, including: Parent Magazine, Woman's Day, Home Business Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, and Moms Business Magazine.

So if you find yourself in the greater Portland area, check out My Precious Kid! You'll instantly understand why they have garnered so much praise and a reputation for excellence!

Safe and happy travels.
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

When staying in a hotel make sure to bring scented diaper disposal bags - they'll keep your room from smelling like a diaper pail.  Sassy makes a  powedered scented "Diaper Sak" in a compact, easily portable dispenser!  For refills check out Buy Buy Baby ($3.49 for 50 bags)!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Take-Along Travels With Baby... by Shelly Rivoli: Five Star Advice!

Author Shelly Rivoli has created the quintessential go-to guide for every parent who has every had to endure the anxiety associated with trying to sooth a screaming child on a plane, or change an explosive diaper in transit, or weather the never ending chanting of "are we there yet?" from the backseat.  Riddled with personal experiences and loaded with informative expertise, Take-Along Travels With Baby: Hundreds of Tips to Help During Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler is written in a humorous, accessible, and easy-to-digest format. 

Covering everything from planning, to in-transit, to check-in, Take-Along Travels With Baby features seasoned-family-traveller tips.  Rivoli provides numerous helpful bullet points, checklists, and how-to photos that can help keep young travellers safe, happy, entertained, fed, and sleeping as well as possible on family get-aways!  All this valuable information is broken down into small, easy-to read sections that make it the perfect choice for perusing while waiting in a doctor's office, or before pick-up from pre-school!  In addition, the author provides sections for parents to record important personal, medical, and emergency information, make notes, and stay organized.

Truly deserving of the numerous accolades it has garnered, this fantastic, fun read will appeal to every parent; whether you are embarking on your first family trip together or trying to avoid the pitfalls you have experienced on previous family get-aways!  Grab your copy today (or grab two - it makes a great gift for new parents!);  Take-Along Travels With Baby is truly an investment that will yield dividends in parental sanity and enjoyment of the journey for all!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

From Travel-Tot: Don’t forget to check under hotel beds when you FIRST get to a room with a child. You never know what evil lurks down there... and if you don't find it, your child will!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baby's First Vacation: Taking Fear Out of the Equation!

Your first vacation with your child can be exciting and a bit nerve-wracking; whether your child is weeks old or starting to crawl, your first vacation is definitely a big wake up call! But there's no need to panic; with a little organization and planning (and these helpful tips!), you can be ready for whatever comes along!

To start, making a list will save you a lot of frustration and time. You'll want to pack to address everything from your child's health, to his or her day-to-day needs in terms of feedings, elimination, entertainment, safety, and comfort. Much of what you will need to pack will be determined by your destination, but the goal is to pack as efficiently as possible, minimizing the amount of unnecessary gear you bring along. In addition, you will need to address some basic health and safety precautions before you set out on your adventure.

Before You Go:

Scheduling your journey during your child's nap or bedtime is a great idea - after all, the more time your child spends sleeping during the journey, the less time you will need to occupy with play or other distractions! Just remember to bring along comfortable pajamas, books, or anything else that is a part of your usual routine.

If you are travelling with an infant, it is important to check with your pediatrician to be sure your child has had all necessary inoculations. Babies do not have fully formed immune systems and are far more susceptible to contracting illnesses than adults. In addition, it is always a good idea to pack any medications your child may require in a bag that will be easily accessible during the journey. A carry-on or diaper bag is a good choice; beware though, if you are flying you will need to familiarize yourself with the TSA limits regarding how much liquid you may carry on with you. Consider packing larger quantities of children's medications in your checked luggage for emergencies.


Packing clothes is relatively simple: a good rule of thumb is to pack a few more outfits than your baby would go through at home, and remember it never hurts to pack a few extra pajamas, socks and onesies! For extended trips, you may want to check with your lodging provider to see if they have laundry facilities. What you spend doing laundry you will easily save in excess luggage fees.

Diapers and Wipes:
For the majority of destinations, it is safe to assume that you will be able to acquire diapers, wipes, ointment, etc. once you arrive. But plan to pack enough for the flight or drive, plus a few extras for any unforeseen accidents or travel delays.  If you are uncertain as to whether you will be able to acquire those items once you arrive, consider using a company like Jet Set Babies - they deliver all the supplies you will need directly to your hotel!

Travelling without toys to occupy your child will inevitably result in disaster. Pack a wide variety to keep baby distracted along the way, including old stand-bys and a few new surprises! Avoid bringing noisy toys or items that could prove annoying to fellow travelers. To add to the fun, consider wrapping some toys (old or new!) in tissue or scrap paper and introduce items one at a time to extend their novelty and appeal!

The less gear you need to haul, the happier you will be, so look for items that can serve multiple purposes (i.e. a car-seat that converts to a stroller, a pack and play that can be used as both a play pen and for sleeping etc.). Another alternative is to explore the availability of rental gear; many popular vacation destinations have local companies that offer strollers or other baby gear that you can borrow for the duration of your stay for less than it may cost to lug all that gear on a plane. Also, many lodging providers now offer cribs, play yards, etc. upon request, which can help cut down on what you need to haul, so call ahead!


Bring along whatever baby-snack items (rice puffs, dry cereal, etc.) your child enjoys most - if you are flying, remember a sippy cup or pacifier to help equalize pressure on take-off and landing! And don't just pack for baby - bring along some finger-friendly snacks (granola bars, dried fruit, Goldfish crackers, pretzels, etc.) for Mom and Dad - you never know when you might run into a delay.

Air Travel Tips:
Though it offers you the best chance at stowing larger items overhead on a crowded flight, you are not required to board early;  if your child is not asleep, that's just 30 or so more minutes that he or she will be trapped in a confined space feeling antsy.

Once You Arrive:

Upon arrival, do a quick evaluation of your room; you may need to rearrange furniture to make play space and remove decorative items that could pose a hazard to your little explorer. You will also want to call ahead to see if your hotel offers any childproofing measures; if not bring along some basic child-proofing devices to child-proof your hotel room. The Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit is an ideal option with it's broad range of deterrent devices (outlet covers, corner guards, foam door pinch guard, multipurpose straps, cord guard etc.) and temporary, non-damaging adhesive. The Kit provides a layer of protection between your child and common hazards, while simultaneously affording you the peace of mind of knowing you won't be incurring extra expenses due to inadvertent damage to hotel property!

The extra few minutes you spend making a list ahead of time and childproofing your "home away from home" will result in a much more relaxed and enjoyable first vacation experience for everyone; and you will reap the reward of special memories that will last a lifetime!  Check out Travel-Tot's free, printable e-book featuring all these pointers and more - the perfect resource for planning your Baby's First Vacation!

Safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

From Travel-Tot: When checking into a hotel, check to see what kind of childproofing the front desk can offer you (if you didn’t bring your own!). It never hurts to ask!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fire Safety: Prevention and Planning

image courtesy of creativedoxfoto/

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 avoided 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:


Smoke detectors can save lives; but only if they are operational 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.
  • Change batteries twice a year; many people 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.


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 your family's escape plan both during 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!

Safe and happy autumn from all of us at Travel-Tot!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Travel-Tot Tip!

From Travel-Tot: When travelling on a plane with small children, bring along some salty snacks to munch on while you’re waiting for the plane to take-off but hold off on the drink! That way when the plane takes off you are almost guaranteed some sippy cup action that will help equalize ears on the ascent!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Safety: Trick-or-Treating Tips!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

We at Travel-Tot know that Halloween is traditionally a time for costumes, parties, parades, and treats; however, safety is never far from our minds! Sadly, CDC data shows that almost four times as many children (age 5-14) are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared to other evenings of the year.  In addition, numerous children are injured every Halloween; particularly by slips and falls. The good news is that most Halloween-related injuries are preventable if parents closely supervise school-aged children during trick-or-treating and remember a few basic tips. 

Children should be instructed to:

  • Go only to well-lit houses.
  • Never enter houses.
  • Travel in small groups, with an adult.
  • Carry a cell phone and know how to reach a parent and call 911.
  • Have their name & phone number printed on their costume (or use a SafetyTat).
  • Bring treats home prior to eating so they can be inspected for tainting/spoilage.
  • Wear reflective, flame-retardant clothing.
  • Use face paint instead of masks.
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Avoid long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes.
  • Avoid carrying sharp or rigid costume knives or swords.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (when available), and avoid crossing between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Always look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
 Parents should:
  • Supervise outings for kids under 12.
  • Prepare for trick-or-treaters: clear lawns and sidewalks, place jack-o-lanterns away from doorways.
  • Avoid giving choking hazards (i.e. nuts, gum, or small toys) as treats to young children.
  • Inspect all candy for safety before it is eaten.
  • Ensure the safety of pedestrian trick-or-treaters.
  • Make sure children under 10 are supervised as they cross the street.
  • Drive slowly.
  • Watch for children in the street and on medians and sidewalks.
  • Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
  • Have children exit cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side. 
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
-Destination Mom

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Family Fun!

Fall is one of the best seasons to have fun as a family: not only because of the beautiful scenery in areas where the leaves are changing, but because of the myriad of fun, inexpensive, old-fashioned, family activities that abound!  Add to that how beneficial it can be to take a little escape from the stresses of a new school year and you have the perfect recipe for fall family fun!

image courtesy of Aduldej/

1. The Fall "Staycation"

This kind of get-away doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. With fall colors at their peak, a scenic drive, hike, camping trip or visit to a farm can be a real treat! Consider checking your local area for seasonal carnivals or festivals which generally have something fun for everyone!

2. Festive Decorations

No time for a get-away? A day of crafty activities to decorate your home for the season can be tons of fun (some great craft ideas can be found at the All Kids Network)!  Visit local farms (or other retailers) and grab some hay bails, pumpkins, apples, gourds, and flowers. Collect leaves for various crafts, make a scarecrow as a family, paint or carve some pumpkins, create stamps, bake something delicious! Serve seasonal snacks; drink cider, snack on pumpkin seeds, and enjoy the crisp fall air. Let the kids get messy and run around; it's a great chance to let them flex their creative muscles and burn off some energy!

3. Dining Al Fresco

Another great day activity can be a local fall food tour!  Check out local farm stands, wineries, and festivals to savor some great fall favorites: festive cupcakes, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cider donuts, pumpkin ravioli, apple cider, pumpkin seeds, jams, etc..  Consider bringing home some fresh produce to try a new recipe!

A little planning can help ensure everyone enjoys themselves no matter how you choose to spend time together! Have older children make a list of places they'd like to visit and activities they'd like to try. Stay flexible, but try to have a plan in place to keep the fun going!  Most of all relax and enjoy your time together making memories.

Safe and happy fall fun!
-Destination Mom

Friday, October 14, 2011

Boo! Travel Horror Stories...

We all have at least one: a travel memory we wish we had never made... 

For most of my friends, the memory is punctuated with a torrent of vomit or explosive diarrhea.  While I was lucky to dodge those bullets, there is one trip that stands out in my mind as particularly horrible.  One cold October when my daughter was two years old, we took a quick overnight trip from northern New Jersey down to Virgina (just outside Washington, D.C.) so that I could attend a good friend's baby shower and my husband and daughter could visit his sister in the next town.  It was the first long car trip we had done as a family and we were thrilled when our daughter didn't seem to suffer from motion sickness and slept for much of the journey - we figured with a full day of active play under her belt, we'd have no trouble with a small modification to her sleep schedule.

Then we checked in to our hotel. 

To start with, the place was laden with loose cords and open outlets, sharp edges, and accordion closet doors; all immediate draws to my curious toddler.  But worst of all the hotel room's door had about an inch of open space between the bottom of the door and the threshold, so not only could we hear EVERY sound that was made outside (and since we were right near a highway, there was plenty to hear!), but there was a steady stream of cold air pouring in from beneath the door; and conveniently, as it poured in, it created a high pitched screaming whistle. 

With all the noise, cold air, and "no-nos" in the main room, my daughter literally passed the entire night dancing in the bathtub singing and going between tantrums from being sleepy and hysterics from being overstimulated by the distractions in our hotel room.  It was like being trapped in a tea kettle at the north pole with the Tasmanian devil. 

Somewhere around 4:00 am my husband and I decided that no one was going to get any sleep that night; so we packed up our stuff and left to drive home.  I would estimate that I drank enough tea to keep a small nation awake for about 6 months, and between my husband and I taking turns at the wheel, 5 hours later we managed to arrive home... where my daughter promptly fell asleep.  That was the first and last "quick overnighter" our family ever attempted; but on the bright side, four years later, it is a funny story and a valuable lesson about the importance of thoroughly researching the hotel before you book!

Safe, happy, and horror-free travels!

-Destination Mom

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grandparents and Childproofing: "The Talk"

image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
Sadly,  many  new parents say they don't want to bring their children to stay at grandparents' homes because there are so many hazards and the space generally lacks basic childproofing.  So how do you tell your parents (or in-laws) that you don't want to visit because you fear for your child(ren)'s safety?  Delicately, but firmly.

As kids, we all cringed when our parents delivered the "there comes a time..." talk to us.  No matter the topic (money, driving, sex, friends, etc.) it all came down to one simple lesson: accept personal responsibility for keeping yourself and those around you safe.  As parents, they had the benefit of the most up-to-date information on how to prevent the tragedies that could happen, so it truly was in our best interest to heed their advice (even if only grudgingly).

The same principle will apply when you have "The Talk" with your own parents (and in-laws) as a parent yourself.  In years past, young parents relied upon their own parents' experience almost exclusively to determine their parenting practices; however, the dawn of the information age has expanded the available knowledge base for new parents and has helped raise awareness of methods for keeping infants and young children safe (not to mention the medical and technological advances that have been made over the last 30 years!).

Heartbreaking statistics show that accidents remain the leading cause of serious and fatal injury to young children; changing everything from the way we select car seats to how we childproof our homes.  Sharing this information, along with your concerns for maximizing the enjoyment of visits by minimizing the stressors, can help ease the discussion's tension.  Below are two common scenarios you may encounter and suggestions for diplomatic responses.

  • The "we raised you without all that stuff and you lived" mentality.  It's true, anyone reading this survived childhood, perhaps with just a few bumps and bruises, or perhaps with more serious injury; but why gamble with any child's safety? 
  • Assure your parents that you are not attacking their parenting style or ability; share with them that by taking a few simple steps to childproof their home they would have more fun with their grandchildren because they would spend less time saying "no" and more time enjoying the visit.  Also (but only if its true!) let them know that childproofing would increase your comfort level during visits and may result in more frequent visits!
  • For resistant parents, offer to bring your own childproofing supplies and take them with you when you go; it may be cumbersome, but it's worth it if it helps smooth familial tension. 
  • If they are truly resistant, suggest visiting at a park or in your own home instead; not ideal, but you have to stand up for your child(ren)'s safety - you would never be able to forgive yourself if your child(ren) suffered injury or death because you acquiesced to save someone hurt feelings.
  • Your parents or in-laws don't understand, don't have space for, or cannot afford "all those fancy gizmos."
  • As mentioned above, you can transport and install your own safety items each time; or, consider offering to buy a childproofing kit, like the compact one developed by Travel-Tot, featuring an assortment of outlet covers, corner guards, pinch guards, and cabinet/door securing devices to be stored at grandma and grandpa's house for visits (minimizing what you need to carry along)! One of the nicest features of Travel-Tot's Travel Childproofing Kit is that the adhesive is temporary, so it goes on strong, but comes off clean without damage to finishes or furniture!
When you confront your parents or in-laws, firmly, but politely make it clear that while you do want to be able to share the joy of their grandchildren with them, your child(ren)'s safety is your priority.  Precious few bonds are as important as those between children and grandparents; and those bonds will only be strengthened by having open and honest lines of communication about important issues like safety.

Safe and happy travels.
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ten Practical Baby Shower Gifts Under $50!

Baby-showers are supposed to be fun, happy affairs, but struggling to select that perfect gift can certainly take the wind out of your sails!  We've all seen the endless parade of cute, slogan-laden bibs and onesies (i.e. "Party at my crib - 3a.m.!," "Do I look like I was born yesterday?,"  etc.), and while they make for entertaining baby-shower gifts they are not always the most practical items for expectant parents.  So if you are looking for ideas for fun, practical, and useful baby-shower gifts under $50 (to go with that witty onesie!), check some of our faves!

Our Ten Favorite Practical Baby Shower Gifts Under $50
  1. HALO® SleepSack Cotton ( $19.00) Ideal for everything from naps to night-long slumbers!  Carries the gold seal from First Candle/SIDS Alliance!
  2. My Blue Bumbershoot Stroller Umbrella (Walmart $47.99) A perfect fit for any stroller, this oversized clip-on umbrella keeps you dry while it frees up hands to allow easy stroller manipulation!
  3. Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit ( $34.95) The perfect way to take the peace of mind of home wherever you roam; features a myriad of childproofing devices and sturdy, temporary adhesive so installed pieces go on strong, yet come off cleanly when it's time to pack back up!
  4. Diaper Genie II (Walmart $34.32) Keep your nursery clean and fresh smalling with this ingenious diaper disposal system!
  5. Monkey Foot Designs Wetbags ( $8.50 - $50.00) The best way to store soiled bibs, burp cloths, wet swimsuits, cloth diapers and other wet items; its unique lining contains smells and prevents leakage - comes in tons of great fabrics and sizes (single or double pocket!).
  6. Bright Starts Comfort & Harmony Cozy Cart Cover ( $25.00) Keep germs at bay when you place your child in a public shopping cart with this adorable padded cart cover - offers 360-degree coverage!
  7. Sophie Giraffe ( $22.98) A durable, fun, natural, non-toxic, super-cushy teether and grasping toy. Very lightweight for easy manipulation by a baby.
  8. Cloud B Twilight Constellation Nightlight - Twilight Turtle ( $21.19) A brilliant turtle-shaped night-light that projects a sky full of stars (in blue, green, or amber) onto walls and ceiling - self-timed shut-off makes this a great "fall asleep" buddy!  Terrific for travel too!
  9. Diaper Cake (Sara 'N Dippity Creations $32.00) A cute and clever way to give the uber-practical gift of diapers along with loveable plush toys!
  10. Pacifier Pal ( $12.00) The best way to keep pacifiers within reach of little hands and safe from tumbles to the floor!   
 Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 23, 2011

Child Safety Month: In Case of Emergency!

September is Child Safety Month!  Until you have a toddler, it is hard to understand how many facets there are to keeping your littlest family members safe; car seats, childproofing (at home and on the go!), infant/child CPR classes, baby monitors, identification tags, cribs, toys, strollers - and the list goes on and on! 

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

However, one of the most basic things you can do to keep your children safe is to create a comprehensive listing of all medical and emergency contact  information.  Print multiple copies so that you can post one on your refrigerator at home, pack one in your wallet for whenever you go out, and provide a copy to each of your children's caregivers (i.e. pre-school, after care, relatives, etc.).  Be sure to include:

Emergency Numbers:
  • Parent's cell phone numbers;
  • Parent's work phone numbers;
  • 911;
  • Non-emergency Police Department phone number;
  • Poison control phone number;
  • Fire department phone number;
  • Child's doctor's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Off-hours doctor's phone number;
  • Child's chart number;
  • Child's dentist's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Address, phone number, and directions to preferred hospital;
  • Emergency contact information for two people other than parents, including:
    • Name;
    • Phone number(s);
    • Relation.
Emergency Information:
  • Home address;
  • Mom's full name;
  • Dad's full name;
  • Child's full name;
  • Child's date of birth;
  • Any allergies, medications, or special conditions;
  • Insurance provider;
  • Insurance provider phone;
  • Insured name and ID;
  • Group ID;
  • Policy ID.
Travel-Tot is pleased to provide an easy-to-use Emergency Information Form here for our readers!  Having such information available all in one place in an easy-to-distribute format could be the difference between life and death, particularly when your child is under the care of someone who may not have all that information committed to memory!

Safe and happy September!
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 16, 2011

Destination: Camping!

image courtsey of wiangya/

The beauty of camping as a family is that it is affordable, engaging, and perfectly adaptable for families with children of any age!  A family camp-out can be as simple as pitching a tent in the backyard, building a fire pit for marshmallow roasting, and spending the night sleeping under the stars or as adventurous as exploring one of America's National Parks for a week! 

One of our family's favorite traditions is to camp-out in the backyard the first weekend after school starts.  We throw the tent up, bring out the sleeping bags, grill up some supper, and make a little fire pit for smores!  We do all sneak inside for bathroom breaks during the night and I usually end up sleeping inside (so the dog doesn't spend all night barking!) - but it just adds to the fun; my daughter breaks out the walkie talkies and once I'm inside she periodically "radios in for supplies" (i.e. snacks, glow sticks, books, toys, etc.) as the night wears on!
Below are some of the things we have done on our annual backyard camp-out that were a huge hit:
  • cookout (we find that campfires are ok for hot dogs, but our gas grill is really better for most other items; but we make sure to eat outdoors and everyone helps with the cooking!)
  • smores (the cornerstone of any successful camp-out according to my daughter!)
  • glow-sticks/bracelets/necklaces
  • flashlight hide and seek (instead of us hiding, we hide a prize!)
  • star gazing with a telescope (we have seen everything from comets to planets to the space station!)
  • scavenger hunt
  • storytelling/book reading
  • nature hunt (find bugs, make leaf rubbings, search the skies with binoculars for birds or bats - your imagination is your only limitation!)
Safe and happy camping!
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 9, 2011

Childproofing Tips: Home and Beyond!

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home.  Every year, more than 3,000,000 unintentional injuries occur in the home to children (ages 14 and under) and result in emergency room visits; even more tragically, each day approximately six children die from injuries resulting from fires, burns, drownings, poisonings, choking, falls, suffocation, and strangulation in the home.  Many of these injuries can be prevented by simply taking the time to properly childproof your living space - whether you are at home or away.

Tips for Childproofing your Home:
Your home should be a safe, loving environment that your child can explore with minimal chance of incurring injury; and while vigilant supervision is the most important safety precaution you can take, it’s sometimes not enough or possible.  Below are some simple steps for making your home more "little-explorer" friendly and safe:
  • Install standard childproofing devices and guards (according to guidelines and instructions), including:
    • outlet plugs,
    • cabinet and drawer locks,
    • knob covers (stoves with controls on the front of the unit),
    • door guards and doorknob covers,
    • window stops,
    • window guards,
    • cord guards,
    • furniture straps and brackets,
    • corner guards, and
    • stair gates (while pressure mounted gates can deter children, wall-mounted gates are more effective at preventing injuries from accidental falls).
  • Install and check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, and be sure to change the batteries in each unit regularly.
  • Set hot water heater thermostats to a maximum of 120 degrees, if you do not have control over the heating element (apartment dwellers, etc.) install an anti-scald device, which is relatively inexpensive and can be installed you or by a plumber.
  • Keep pools enclosed by a locked fence that cannot be climbed to prevent accidental access (hot-tubs should be covered and locked when not in use). Be sure there is a perimeter alarm to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.

Tips for Childproofing Away from Home:
Investing just fifteen minutes to inspect and childproof your guest room can considerably decrease the odds of your child injuring themselves on unsecured doors, outlets, drawers, sharp corners, or cords. 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.
  • Make sure that if you are using a hotel-provided crib that it is up to standards with the Consumer Product Safety Commission: slats should not be more than 2 3/8 inches apart and all sides should be fixed (no drop sides).
  • Whether using a hotel-provided crib or a port-a-crib from home, remove pillows, toys, or blankets that may cause suffocation or strangulation.
  • Never leave your child alone in the bathroom.
  • Unplug electrical appliances (i.e. hairdryer, razor, etc.) and store them in a locked drawer or cabinet.
  • Ensure that the bathtub floor has a non-slip surface or that there are non-slip mats or decals available.  
  • Keep hazardous products out of the reach of children (i.e. mouthwash, shampoo, cosmetics, medications, etc.).
  • Bring and install some basic childproofing gear (such as the items found in the Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit).
    • Secure blind cords.
    • Keep low cabinet doors shut with straps.
    • Secure corner guards onto furniture.
    • Place pinch guards on interior swinging doors.
    • Install guards on interior sliding doors.
    • Insert outlet covers into unused outlets.
    • If your little traveler is curious about the toilet, be sure to place a doorknob protector on the handle or install a locking strap if the door has a lever handle.
  • 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.
  • Keep furniture away from doors and windows to prevent access to locks and accidental falls.
  • 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 bored and irritated toddlers, which will lead to stressed and anxious parents!
 Safe and happy exploring!
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 2, 2011

Family Car-Trip Travel Products We Love!

Travel-Tot is dedicated to helping keep children safe away from home; and while we are proud to have introduced to the market the first temporary Travel Childproofing Kit, we are also thrilled to have discovered the following products that we feel could also help make travelling with young children easier and less stressful! Check out these great products:

We love this innovative, safe, compact, and easy to pack seat that can be used for children between 40 and 80 pounds. A huge hit in Europe, the Bubble Bum inflatable booster seat meets the crash testing USA FMVSS213 standards in its inflated and deflated state; a great product for both travel and to keep on hand for emergency situations where a booster seat may be needed, but too bulky to keep a spare on hand. We especially love that it deflates to virtually the size of a hand towel for storage and packing!

We love this travel tray;  it's a play station for the road! This adorable tray provides your little road-warrior with a great surface for drawing, reading, playing and more; helping to keep your child entertained in the car!  Featuring a mesh pocket for crayons, markers and more, built-in side walls to help keep items from sliding off tray, and a built-in spill-proof snack holder, it's the perfect way to keep everything contained yet easily accessible!

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom