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!