Friday, December 28, 2012

Guest Post on Safe Sleep by First Candle

This week, we are honored to have a guest post by Laura Reno of First Candle.  We greatly appreciate her generous offer to share this invaluable article on safe sleeping and encourage our readers to share these life-saving tips with friends and family. 
First Candle – Working toward a Future where all Babies Survive and Thrive
As one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to infant health and survival, it is First Candle’s mission to promote safe pregnancies and the survival of babies through the first years of life. At the same time, we remain committed to providing compassionate grief support to anyone affected by the death of a baby. With a highly skilled professional staff, expert medical directors, committed board of directors and national network of partners, we are working to ensure that every baby is given the best possible chance to reach not only his or her first birthday, but many happy birthdays beyond.
This post will focus on the importance of safe sleep in preventing infant deaths.

As a new parent, one of the most important decisions you will make is where your baby will sleep. Every year, nearly 4,500 babies die without warning before reaching their first birthday. Experts believe 80-90 percent of these deaths are the result of unsafe sleep practices.  The following information will help you keep your baby safe from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation and accidents during sleep.
The safest place for your baby to sleep, for at least the first six months, is alongside your bed in his/her own separate space.  Adult beds are not safe for sleeping babies!   Babies who sleep in adult beds are as much as 40 times more likely to die than babies who sleep on their back in a safe crib.  Soft bedding, such as pillows, blankets and quilts increase your baby’s risk for SIDS and suffocation. Bed sharing is even more unsafe if your baby is less than 11-weeks old, was born too early or at a low birth weight, if you smoked during pregnancy, if you or your partner smoke now, or if you or your partner have taken drugs, alcohol or medications that make you sleepy.  Falling asleep with your baby on a couch or armchair is very unsafe and adults, children or pets should never share a sleep surface with your baby.
Your baby should sleep in a safety-approved crib, portable crib, play yard or bassinet on a firm mattress covered with only a tight-fitting sheet (bassinets should not have soft or padded sides).  Only use the mattress and sheet recommended for the sleep product you choose. Use a wearable blanket or other type sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm.  Pillows, quilts, blankets, bumpers, wedges, positioners and stuffed animals should never be used in your baby’s sleep area.  Always place your baby on his/her back for sleep!  Remember to follow these guidelines even when you are visiting away from home or traveling.
Its okay to nurse your baby in bed, but when it’s time to go to sleep, be sure to place your baby back in his/her own, separate, safe sleep area alongside your bed!
Research shows that pacifiers can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS if used during the first year of life.  Offer a pacifier every time you place your baby down to sleep.  Don’t worry about putting it back in your baby’s mouth if it falls out after he/she falls asleep.  Pacifiers should not be used as a substitute for feeding.  If your baby refuses the pacifier, don’t force him/her to take it.  Never use a string, clip or anything else to attach a pacifier around your baby’s neck or to clothing.
Be sure that everyone who cares for your baby follows these safe sleep rules!
Please do not hesitate to contact me at 313-884-4742 or if you have any questions. More information on helping your baby survive and thrive can be found at

Laura L. Reno
Mother of Daniel Patrick Reno, a victim of SIDS
Director of Marketing and Communications
Program Director – Family Support

Laura L. Reno Biography

Laura Reno is First Candle’s Director of Marketing and Communications and Program Director – Family Support. As a key member of the senior staff team responsible for the overall development and implementation of the organization’s strategic plan, Laura also serves as the primary communication link between First Candle and it’s constituency, the media, medical community and general public; and is responsible for the development of public awareness campaigns, creating promotional, educational and bereavement materials and interpreting medical and scientific data for public consumption.  As Program Director - Family Support, Laura directs the organizations bereavement component, which includes developing model programs for services to families and providing crisis intervention support to those affected by the death of a baby. Since the SIDS death of her son Daniel in 1984, Laura has been working at the local, state, national and international levels to ensure that one day, no family need experience the sudden, unexpected death of a precious baby.
Above content and images developed and copyrighted by First Candle and reviewed by a national panel of experts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

3 Colorful Ideas for Snow Day Fun!

Looking for a few new ideas to get your kids out and playing on a snow day?  We've got three kid-tested winners you'll want to introduce next time those flakes start flying!
  1. Build a colorful snow fort: What says winter more than trying to design your own igloo or snow fort for hiding out in?  Start with a small dugout then create a structure using molded snow bricks (any kind of plastic container can be used to mold the bricks!) misted with cold water mixed with food coloring - you can do all one color or mix it up!
  2. Snow painting: Using seveal spray bottles, fill with water and a few drops of food coloring.  Pack down a flat "canvas" outside in the snow or create a 3-d sculpture and spray the food coloerd water onto the packed surface; have fun mixing colors and experimenting with spraying from different distances!
  3. Ice cube/globe scavenger hunt: Freeze food-colored water in several colors (in ice cube molds or in balloons!) and hide in the snow - send kids on a scavenger hunt - the one who finds the most colored cubes or globes wins!

Friday, December 21, 2012

5 Fun Holiday Finds for Travelers!

If you are a devout last-minute holiday shopper, you'll love these finds for the travel-lovers in your life!  From adults to kids, photography-buffs to gadget-addicts; we've got a gift idea for those on your list with wanderlust!

For Parents: 

There is no better gift option for parents who love to travel with their young family than portable peace of mind; and that's just what you'll find in the Travel-Tot Temporary Travel Childproofing Kit!  The Kit provides an easy, temporary, non-damaging way for parents to childproof hotel rooms, motel rooms, even grandma’s house!

For Kids: 

Just Plane Smart! is a clever, lap-sized, lighthearted, humorously illustrated, fun-filled travel companion that will stretch kids' imaginations, satisfy their curiosity, and keep them occupied at 30,000 feet or at home on the ground!

For Memory Keepers:

For the consummate travelling photographer on your list, consider the Nikon COOLPIX AW100 - 16 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video!  Rugged, lightweight camera provides fantastic close-up and distance shots, video, and even panoramic functionality! 

For the Hyper-Organized:

Got someone on your list who is infinitely organized?  They'll love the PB Travel Cocoon Innovations Grid-It Organizer CPG20; whether it's tools, electronics, toiletries, documents, or other small items that can easily be lost in a carry-on, the Grid-It organizer will create a whole new way for your neat-freak to pack for travel!

For Smart-Phone Addicts:

Smart phones are fast replacing laptops and tablets for convenience and portability; and now there's an app that can create a custom itinerary based on your travel specs!  TripIt Pro offers users instant access to a master itinerary of all their travel plans, plus extra powerful features (such as point tracking and flight cancellation notification) to keep them in the know, on the go!

Safe and happy travels this holiday season!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Communication is Key

In light of the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut this past week, we at Travel-Tot would like to encourage all parents to make open communication a priority at home.  If you feel your children are old enough to understand, speak with them about what happened (at an age-appropriate level); you may be surprised at what and how much they have already heard.  Be as honest as you can in answering any questions they have; let them know it is ok to be sad. Address their fears as honestly and reassuringly as you can. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities of Sandy Hook Elementary School as they struggle to cope and find peace in the days, weeks, and years ahead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Portable Safety; A Nanny's Best Friend!

Anyone who has been a Nanny or Au Pair for a young family will tell you that once infants become mobile, the world outside their home is not always the easiest or safest place for them to navigate. Traveling with the family to visit relatives and friends can often pose a bit of a challenge; childless homes frequently contain hazards that keep caregivers hopping up during visits to prevent little explorers from breaking low lying treasures or from injuring themselves.

While vigilant supervision during any visit is irreplaceable as an injury deterrent, there are a few things you can do to make life a bit easier!  Assuming those you are visiting are receptive, investing just 15 minutes when you arrive could facilitate a more relaxed and enjoyable visit for everyone!  Create a "safe zone" for children to play in. Start by exploring the room from a child's vantage point (get down on your hands and knees to experience the world from their eyes!); then set about removing tiny, breakable, top-heavy, or sharp objects from reach (table tops, shelves, hearths, etc.).  Next be sure cords (electrical, blinds, decorative, etc.) are coiled up out of reach, outlets are safeguarded, sharp corners are padded, and cabinets are locked.  Also, keep doors to laundry rooms, stairways, kitchens, supply closets, and bathrooms closed or gated-off from access during the visit.

A great all-in-one tool for providing this additional layer of protection is the Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit; the kit components (foam corner guards, outlet covers, pinch guards, etc.) can help prevent injury from some of the most common hazards present in living spaces!  Best of all, the Kit's components go on with a strong, temporary, non-damaging adhesive that will not damage furniture or finishes; and Kit components can be reused!  It is a quick, easy solution that stores easily in the car for wherever you go! 

Creating a safe play zone in a childless home may take a few minutes, but it will result in greater peace of mind and a more enjoyable visit for everyone! For additional helpful information, check out Travel-Tot's free e-book: Survival Guide to Traveling with Babies and Toddlers!  Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elf on the Go!

Taking your Elf with you on the road before the big day?  A cute way to show your kids that the Elf is excited to hit-the-road is to have him "ready his suitcase" the night before the trip; a match box painted brown with an embroidery floss handle makes a great carry-on for traveling Elves! 
Happy Elfing!

Friday, December 7, 2012

10 iPhone Apps That Can Help When You’re Lost

This week we are pleased to feature a guest submission from

Few things are as nerve-wracking as realizing that you’re lost, whether you’re in a completely unfamiliar city or simply a neighborhood in your hometown that you don’t know very well. It wasn’t so long ago that you’d be left to fend for yourself, asking strangers for directions until you found your way back to a place that you knew. These days, however, the popular iPhone coupled with the staggering selection of applications available in the App Store make it possible to find your way back home safely, without ever being forced to speak to someone you don’t know.
  1. MapQuest A recognizable name in navigation since the days of printing directions gleaned from the Internet onto actual paper, MapQuest’s service is simple, straight-forward and easy to use. As the number one provider of voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation that does not charge for its services, the free MapQuest app also checks live traffic as you travel and automatically redirects you in the event of a wrong turn.
  2. iCarPark – Getting lost in an unfamiliar city is one thing. Being completely disoriented in a parking lot and incapable of finding your car is another matter altogether, and a very embarrassing one at that. This $0.99 app will help you navigate back to the parking spot that you saved upon exiting the vehicle, eliminating the wasted time and humiliation of wandering aimlessly through a parking lot.
  3. Spyglass – If you happen to be lost in the great outdoors with a full battery, this $3.99 app is one of the best to have in your pocket. Viewfinders, compasses, maps, a GPS tracker and a gyroscope are among the many survival and navigation features offered, helping you find your way back to civilization without calling in a rescue team.
  4. Localscope – When you’re not sure about where you are, familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood is the best course of action. With this $1.99 app, you can learn more about the things around you than you would from any guidebook, finding pointers and trivia from search engines, social networking and geo-tagged information.
  5. Where Am I At? – Opening this free app at the first sign of unfamiliar surroundings can help you determine exactly where you are, in terms of both GPS coordinates and approximate street address. You’ll never have to fumble to figure out where you are, and you’ll be able to begin making your way back to more familiar territory again in no time at all.
  6. City Maps 2Go – Deemed “essential for travelers” by TIME Magazine and “one of the best offline maps apps” by the Wall Street Journal, the $1.99 City Maps to Go app is a resource you can turn to, even when there are no networks available to allow use of GPS services. The first paragraphs of more than 500,000 Wikipedia articles are also included at certain points of interest, landmarks and attractions.
  7. Galileo Offline Maps – A powerful offline map application offered for free in the App Store, Galileo Offline Maps can help you find your way when you aren’t sure of where you are, discover new things along the way, and even plan a travel itinerary. The wide range of features that are available on the app make it a popular one to use when you’re lost, as well as one that can be used in everyday life.
  8. Trimble Outdoors Navigator – Outdoorsy types that tend to take a wrong turn or two simply can’t be without this $4.99 app, which is designed to allow adventurous users the freedom to wander as they please, with the security of knowing that they will be able to find their way back.
  9. You Need A Map – A free app billed as an aid for emergencies, You Need a Map will help you when you’re lost, even if you’re in an area with no cell signals. Boasting coverage of all 50 American states, You Need a Map is a very large app, but it’s also one that you’ll certainly wish you had if you find yourself unsure of your location in a remote area.
  10. Take Me Home, I’m Lost! – This free application does exactly what it says: it takes you home when you are lost. If you’re across town from your regular stomping grounds and not as familiar with the neighborhood you’re in as you are your own, Take Me Home will direct you back home the moment you’re ready to go. You can even enjoy music out of your own iTunes library as you make your way back home!
While these apps can be real lifesavers when you’re lost, it’s important to keep in mind how quickly they can become dangerous if you choose to use them while you’re sharing the road with other drivers. Pulling over to determine your location and set a GPS route is much safer than fumbling to do so while you’re operating a vehicle.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tip of the Week: Give the Gift of Health!

imag courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important deterrents to getting sick and spreading germs to others, particularly in the winter when exposure to germs increases due to extensive time spent indoors. Children and adults alike need to remember to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, encourage children (and adults!)  to cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve or elbow, not their hands!

Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Road Safety Tips for Families!

As a parent, safety is always a top priority, whether at home or on the road!  Experiencing a breakdown with children in tow can be frightening and stressful. So before you head out on your next family road trip, check out these ten road safety tips to help give you some peace of mind and pave the road ahead for fun!

Road Trip Safety Tips: Travel-Tot's Top 10!

1. Before you leave, give your car a quick once-over: check tires to ensure tread and pressure are optimal, check windshield wiper blades and change if necessary, check and top off water level, engine coolant, and washer fluid, check oil level and change if necessary, and check brake lights, headlights, flashers, and blinkers.
2. Discuss road safety with your children and impress upon them how important it is not to distract the driver.
3. Inspect the back seat and ensure that it is clear of hazardous materials or anything your child can choke on. Remove all possible projectiles and store heavy, sharp, or poisonous items in the trunk or in sealed containers out of the reach of children.
4. Acquire some sort of roadside assistance or auto club plan.
5. Always bring along identification and medical information for all passengers in case there is an emergency; the time saved by having this information handy could be the difference between life and death. Ensure that license, insurance, and registration are up to date as well.
6. Ensure your car has an emergency kit, including;
  • a spare tire, jack, and tire iron 
  • jumper cables
  • a flashlight 
  • warm blankets
  • water and snacks
  • a fully charged cell phone (and a car charger)
  • flares 
  • a first aid kit
7. If possible, share the driving with someone to prevent exhaustion behind the wheel.  Pull over if you feel yourself becoming tired.
8. Take frequent breaks. Get out and let everyone stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat, and have a quick pick-me-up (i.e. coffee, tea, other caffeinated beverage) every two to three hours.
9. Familiarize yourself with your vehicle and always obey all traffic regulations.  Help prevent accidents by letting the navigator handle the GPS, cell phone, and music or other entertainment.
10. Keep an eye on your fuel situation; refuel as often as necessary.

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tip of the Week: Modeling Positive Behavior

You are your child's primary source of information about the world around them; that also makes you the strongest "filter" of what information will reach them.  As the holidays approach and you share more special time together as a family, remember to model the behaviors and attitudes you want your children to demonstrate.  From manners to anger management to nutrition and body image, your children look to you for the appropriate ways to behave and think!  Take advantage of these special times together to talk with your children; find out what they think and feel and show them (by your example!) those beliefs and behaviors you value most!  You may be surprised how quickly they respond to your efforts!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Keeping Holiday Travel Safe!

The holidays are upon us, and for many families that means traveling to share in joyous celebrations with far-flung friends and family members! As a parent of a toddler or young child, visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc. can often pose a bit of a challenge; childless homes frequently contain hazards that keep you hopping up during visits to prevent your little love from breaking low lying treasures or from injuring him- or herself (i.e. candles, decorative breakables, hot serving dishes, and beautiful table linens just begging to be yanked by little explorers!).

While vigilant supervision during any visit is irreplaceable as an injury deterrent, there are a few things you can do to make life a bit easier on yourself (and your child!) during holiday visits!  Investing just 15 minutes to create a "safe zone" for your child to play in could facilitate a more relaxed and enjoyable visit. Start by visually inspecting each 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. Also, remove tiny, breakable, top-heavy, burning, hot, or sharp objects from reach (table tops, shelves, hearths, etc.). Finally, be sure cords (electrical, blinds, decorative, etc.) are coiled up out of reach and keep doors to laundry rooms, stairways, kitchens, supply closets, and bathrooms closed or gated-off from access during the visit.

To help create an additional layer of protection, invest in a Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit; the kit components (foam corner guards, outlet covers, pinch guards, etc.) can help prevent injury from some of the most common hazards present in living spaces!  Best of all, the Kit's components go on with a strong, temporary, non-damaging adhesive that will not damage furniture or finishes; and Kit components can be reused!  It is a quick, easy solution you can store in your car for wherever you go; or consider picking one up as a gift for your parents, in-laws, or other friends or family you visit during the holidays! 

Creating a safe play zone in a childless home may take a few minutes, but it will result in greater peace of mind for you and a more enjoyable visit for everyone! Safe and happy travels and best wishes from all of us at Travel-Tot for a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving!
-Destination Mom 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tip of the Week: Count Your Blessings!

As we count down the last few days to Thanksgiving and the beginning of the frenzied holiday season, try to take a moment each day as a family to celebrate and be thankful for the blessings in your life! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Family Guide to Prepping for Natural Disaster

image courtesy of Victor Habbick/
Natural disasters strike every region of our country; however, there is often time to put into place emergency kits and plans, and the more prepping you do in advance, the better off you and your family will be in the aftermath of a disaster.  Below are tips adapted from numerous of FEMA's publications on disaster preparedness.

Create Emergency Kits:

Every home should have a Disaster Supply Kit.  The kit should contain enough supplies to meet all basic needs for each family member for at least three days and should be stored sturdy containers such as backpacks, a duffel bag, or rolling case.  Include in the kit a waterproof and fireproof container in which you should store all family records in case it becomes necessary for you to evacuate your home.  Specific kit contents should include (but are not limited to):
  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and food that won’t spoil. Include a manual can opener and utility knife, along with any pet food and supplies you might need.
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • A first aid kit that includes prescription medications.
  • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, candles, matches, plenty of extra batteries, and a utility knife.
  • An extra set of car keys and cash.
  • Personal hygiene supplies (toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Any special items or equipment for infants, or for older or disabled family members (formula, diapers, denture or eye care supplies, etc.)
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Important family documents in a waterproof container
In addition to a home kit, you should put together an Emergency Car Kit for every family vehicle.  Each kit should be able to sustain the maximum number of family members in as much comfort as possible until shelter and assistance can be found.  Specific kit contents should include (but are not limited to):
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • Car-adapted charger cords for cellular phones
  • Blankets
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Bottled water and non-perishable, high-energy foods like granola bars
  • Maps, shovel, and flares
  • Kitty litter or sand
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Also, be sure fuel tanks are full if you have lead time before a storm
Have a Plan:

The best defense against disaster is good preparation. Familiarize yourself and your family with the types of disasters that might affect your community and hold a family meeting to discuss the need for preparation. Explain the dangers of storms, flooding, tornadoes, fire, and earthquakes to children in terms they can understand without frightening them. Explain how planning will help the family to stay safe and together in case of an emergency. Discuss how your family will respond, and find safe spots in the home for each type of disaster. At a minimum, you should:
  • Identify an emergency gathering location inside the home for weathering a storm, tornado, or earthquake.
  • Determine an emergency meeting place outside the home if evacuation is deemed necessary.
  • Take a basic first aid and CPR class.
  • Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries.
  • Mark two escape routes for each room.
  • Post emergency phone numbers near phones. Teach children how and when to call 911, police, and fire.
  • Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated during a disaster (it is often easier to call out-of-state than within the disaster area). Document their phone numbers and provide each family member with a copy; when possible (adults and older children) have family members commit the numbers to memory.
  • Practice escape routes and escaping to emergency meeting places monthly as a family.
FEMA's website offers more specific information pertaining to what to do if an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm, tornado, flood, or fire strikes your area.  You can also obtain more information from your local government office of emergency services, fire and police departments, American Red Cross, National Weather Service, and local public library.  When it comes to your family's safety, preparedness is the name of the game!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tip of the Week: Calming Baby Away From Home

Have a fussy baby who just can't seem to sleep away from home?  Try some "white noise."  Many parents swear by running the faucet, clock radio on static, hair dryer, or "white noise" machine to soothe fussy babies who have trouble sleeping in strange surroundings!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

10 Ideas for Childproofing Away From Home!

Traveling is one of life’s greatest joys; and, 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 accommodations will be safe for your child helps ensure as relaxing and enjoyable a trip 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.  So what can you bring along to help make your room more child-friendly?

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.

10 Simple Child-Proofing Measures For On-The-Go!
Here are some simple steps you can take to make your home-away-from-home safe and relaxing:
  1. 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.
  2. Arrange furniture away from windows or doors to prevent accidental escapes or falls.
  3. Use guards to tie up electrical and blind cords which can pose a choking hazard to your little explorer.
  4. Secure low cabinet doors shut with pinch guards to reduce risk of injury.
  5. 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.
  6. If your little traveler is curious about the toilet, be sure to place a doorknob protector on the handle to prevent unsupervised access.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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, November 6, 2012

Exercise Your Right to Vote!

Today is Election Day, so remember to get out and vote!  A few fun and helpful links:

Love candidate quizzes?  Try ProCon!

Need to find your pooling location?  Check out Vote411!

Your vote counts, so get informed and get out and vote today!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

CPR: Save a Life, Get Certified

image courtesy of the American Red Cross
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 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, so find a course in your area and get certified.

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

4 Fantastic Family Road Trips!

photo credit: Tony J Case via

There is nothing more American than a family road trip!  No matter where you live, there is an adventure awaiting your family; with a little research, route planning, and flexibility, your family could hit the road and find any number of wonders to build amazing family vacation memories on!  Below are some of our favorite trips and sights; feel free to add some of your family's favorites in our comments section!

1. The Western Front - California and the Desert Southwest

Topping many a bucket-list are our first two spectacular excursions, which make fantastic trips individually or combined: California's Coast and the Desert Southwest!
2. The Cradle of Modern America - the Mid-Atlantic

Introduce your children to the history of their country in a way that truly brings it to life!  The I-95 corridor connects many of the most historic locations in the Mid-Atlantic that date back to our nation's Colonial days; New York, NYPhiladelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, D.C.. Along the way, don't miss these family-friendly spots: the Empire State Building, the 9-11 Memorial, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, the Jersey Shore, Liberty Bell in Independence Hall, George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Museums, and Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg

3. A Little Southern Charm - the Southeast

Slow down and savor the laid-back pace of a road-trip tour of the Old South; relax and savor the gentle breezes while sipping on some sweet tea. The I-95 corridor heading south offers visitors a chance to explore some of the nations most beautiful coastal areas in the US; including the barrier islands along the Outer Banks, NC, Hilton Head, SC, Savannah, GA, and St. Augustine, FL. Play and swim at one of many sandy, sun-drenched beaches, kayak through preserved wetlands, crab and fish along beaches covered in rolling dunes or stroll through the the South's historic landmarks.  Don't-miss stops along the way include: the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh, NC, and the charming architecture and historical landmarks in  Charleston, S.C., Savannah, GA, and St. Augustine, FL.

4. The Great American Breadbasket: the Midwest 

With its wholesome, all-American feel, the Midwest is the perfect place to take a family road trip!  Home to some of America's most beautiful prairies, lakes, and forests, as well as amazing architecture and world-class attractions, the Midwest has tons to offer!  From St. Louis, MO home of the spectacular Gateway Arch, head north to Chicago, IL and Wisconsin Dells, then follow the shoreline of Lake Michigan north and east from Milwaukee, WI  along endless miles of lighthouse-dotted sandy beaches and craggy cliffs to reach beautiful Mackinac Island, home to historic, revolution-era Fort Mackinac, but leave your car behind, because travel on the island is limited to foot, bike, or horse and buggy!  Along the way, be sure not to miss: the Willis Tower (a.k.a. Sears Tower), Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Harley Davidson Museum, and Jelly Belly's Visitor Center.

The US has the distinction of being one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world; what better way to celebrate that than to get out there and share it with your family!  Safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: Planned Bailouts!

When road tripping with kids in tow, it can be helpful to stop often at parks, playgrounds, or even fast food spots with a kids play area!  Periodic "planned bailouts" can not only help keep the trip interesting for young travelers, but can offer parents a few precious moments to decompress between choruses of "are we there yet?".

Thursday, October 18, 2012

15 Safety Tips for Your Little Trick-or-Treaters!

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. 

The following 15 safety tips are offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Safety Council:

Remind your children that they should:

  • 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.
 Have a safe and happy Halloween!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: Tracking Treats!

This was a tip I knew I just had to pass along; it's a money, space, and calorie saver!  The other day I was lamenting with my friend how every year, we get stuck with bags and bags of extra candy left over from Halloween, and she shared a brilliant secret she has been using for the past few years to avoid that same fate.  She told me that she saves the empty bags from the candy they hand out and then records it so that she can buy the same amount the next year (a little more or less depending on the weather).  Simple and brilliant!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

8 Awesome Family Travel Blogs!

Family travel blogs are as unique as the families whose adventures they chronicle. Some offer  valuable expertise, some, motivation to start your family's trip, and some, heart-warming (and sometimes heart-breaking) tales of the lives of those who have chosen to explore the world as a family!  This week, I've chosen eight of my personal favorites to share; check out these inspiring sites created by families who have generously chosen to share their experiences in globe-trotting:

  1. Traveling with Bender - Fantastic blog about an Australian family (two parents, two children under age 4) who have embarked on an adventure to see the world... starting in Asia!
  2. Pint Sized Pilot - An easy-to-navigate wealth of knowledge on everything from packing and prep to great family destinations!
  3. One Year Sabbatical - Join this fun-loving family of four (two parents, two sons) as they spend a year together in Indonesia and Southeast Asia!
  4. Snaps and Blabs - Amazing blog about "two vagabonds and their three children" who are seeing the world, on a shoe-string budget! 
  5. Escape Artists - A single Mom tackles the world with her (now 11-year-old) son; recording their adventures in this brilliant collection of posts about "the apparent mundanity of leading a life less ordinary."
  6. Soul Travelers 3 - The soul-searching chronicle of a family of three (two parents, one child) living a nomadic lifestyle and exploring the global community!
  7. The Great Family Escape - The ponderings and wanderings of a family of four (two parents, two children) who has chosen to explore the world to get a little slice of everything and give their children the opportunity to choose for themselves who it is that they want to be!
  8. It's a Creekmore World - A heart-wrenchingly real blog about a family of four (two parents, two children) from the Washington, D.C. area chronicling their travels abroad together, as well as the mother's struggle with cancer.  A real reminder to live every day as though it were your last and to take nothing for granted.
Each of these amazing blogs offers invaluable information, inspiration, and perspective; so if you are dreaming of a life less ordinary, take advantage of the wit and wisdom of these bloggers and get inspired to set your family travel plans into action!  Wherever the road may take you, may you always enjoy safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: Get Carded!

During a recent Girls Night Out, my girlfriend introduced this great Mom tip: have cards printed with your full name and contact information (and, if you wish, your pediatrician's number and a list of your child's allergies on the opposite side). That way, any time you leave your child(ren) with someone, you can easily provide them with all the information they'll need in case of emergency.  Easy to carry and infinitely helpful to caregivers!
image courtesy of imagerymajestic/

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fire Safety: Guest Post from

October is Fire Safety Month and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share the following post, which was originally featured in September of this year on's blog.  The highly informative article underscores the importance of making sure your home is prepared and having a well-rehearsed evacuation plan in the event of a fire or other emergency; the five minutes you spend reading it could just save a life.  Our thanks to for sharing their excellent article!

Planning a Fire Evacuation Route for Your Home

According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 3,500 Americans die in fires each year, with another 18,300 sustaining injuries as the result of a fire. Because the majority of these fires occur in the home, it’s of vital importance that every family has a fire evacuation plan in place. While no homeowner wants to consider the possibility of losing everything they’ve worked so hard to acquire, ensuring that you and your children are armed with the information you need to survive a house fire could mean the difference between an unfortunate event and a truly tragic one.

Making sure that you have taken the proper precautionary measures as a matter of routine maintenance can make a huge difference in situations where every moment matters. Making sure that your home is stocked with the proper equipment is the first step to planning your evacuation route and fire safety plan.
  • Smoke Alarms –Your home should be equipped with smoke alarms on every floor and outside of every bedroom to ensure that each member of the family can hear the alarm clearly enough to awaken from a sound sleep, should it go off. The batteries in your smoke alarms should be changed when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time, or more frequently if they begin to emit the chirping noise that indicates low battery power.
  • Fire Extinguishers – You should place a fire extinguisher on every floor, including one in the kitchen where cooking fires can quickly get out of control. Upstairs extinguishers should be kept in central locations for ease of access. As an extra precaution, keeping a fire extinguisher near any sources of heat, such as a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, is wise.
  • Emergency Escape Ladders – Houses with more than one level and bedrooms on upper floors should be equipped with an emergency escape ladder in each of those bedrooms. Children should be instructed on the proper use of such ladders when they’re old enough to manage them without assistance.
Making a plan of action for your family to adhere to in the event of a fire can be a difficult task for many reasons, not least of which is a simple reluctance to consider the possibility of losing everything you own in a blaze. Making that plan, however, could very well mean the difference between your family making it out of a burning home intact, or suffering a devastating loss.
  • Pick a Meeting Point – For any disaster, natural or otherwise, your family should have a designated meeting point for everyone to converge, should you become separated. Make sure that your children know where to go after they escape from a house fire or other catastrophe, and how to reach that point on their own.
  • Choose an Emergency Contact – Choosing an emergency contact, such as a close friend or a member of your extended family, for your children and spouse to call in the event of a fire that leaves you separated can help each member of your family determine that everyone made a successful escape if you’re unable to reach the designated meeting point.
  • Determine the Quickest Exit from Each Bedroom – Because older members of the family will almost certainly attempt to assist the younger ones, it’s important that everyone in your family knows the quickest and safest exit from each bedroom in the house.
  • Teach Kids More Than One Route – Ideally, your children will be accompanied by an adult as they escape a burning house. Unforeseen events, however, can leave them to make the trek alone. Because of this, it’s imperative that you teach your children how to safely evacuate your home by themselves, and how to choose the best route to do so.
After your evacuation route is decided upon and memorized by everyone in the family, it’s wise to periodically practice your fire evacuation plan by staging regular drills. During these drills, covering the basics of concepts such as “Stop, Drop, and Roll” is advised. Kids should learn how to stay low on the ground to avoid excessive smoke inhalation, to test doorknobs for blistering heat before grasping them, and to close doors behind them as they move from room to room to slow the spread of fire.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: The Perks of Off-Peak Travel!

Fall is a fantastic time to get away as a family; with older kids in school, not only will you dodge crowds and long waits, but many venues offer discounts to attract visitors, so you just might save a few bucks too!  Consider locations that are normally crowded during summer months, such as: theme parks, tropical islands, and cities.  Safe and happy travels!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Child Safety Month: Emergency Preparedness Tips!

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! 

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, sitters, 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