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