Sunday, December 6, 2015

Holiday Entertaining with Kids in Mind!

With holiday entertaining right around the corner, visions of festive table settings, recipes and holiday cocktails fill our head – but let’s not overlook the kids’ table! Our Friends at Juicy Juice have offered these great ideas!

Give little ones the opportunity to help set their own table, with kid-friendly decorating and menu ideas like these:

Make a kids-only menu item: A fun way to get kids involved and excited about the holiday season is to have them make a dish just for them. Try a low-stress, minimal ingredient recipe like Baked Apples (from Juicy Juice). End result: a seasonal and healthy dessert or side just for kids.

Serve festive drinks for the kids, too:
Let the little ones sip on a glass of Apple Cider (made with Juicy Juice), a warm Christmas Cheer punch or set up a DIY drink station so they can make something special for themselves. Help kids combine half juice such as Juicy Juice with no added sugar, half sparkling water and add an easy fruit garnish or a festive straw. For younger kids, you can put a colorful selection of Juicy Juice boxes in an open cooler or bucket of ice so they can serve themselves.

Kids-Table Chic: Whether they help pick the color scheme, set the table or craft the centerpiece, let kids have a say in what goes at their table. Work together to create a centerpiece where guests can write what they’re thankful for on a paper leaf or make a Juice Box Turkey place setting with supplies found around the house.

·         Endless Entertainment: For a rustic look (and a way to keep kids entertained during dinner) use brown craft paper in lieu of a tablecloth and set out some crayons and pencils for drawing and tic-tac-toe.

Thank you Juicy Juice!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Safety: 13 Don't-Miss Safety Tips!

image courtesy of stockimages/
Halloween is traditionally a time for costumes, parties, parades, and treats; as parents, 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, many 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 these basic tips adapted from the National Safety Council:

Remind your children that they should:

  • Go only to well-lit houses and 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 well-fitting, reflective, flame-retardant clothing and shoes.
  • Use face paint instead of masks.
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes. 
  • 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, 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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Top Tips For Travelling With A Child With ADHD

This week's article comes to us courtesy of Sally Jacks:

Travelling with a child who has ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) can be very stressful  and is unlikely to be something that you can do spontaneously. Children with ADHD tend to be driven by routine and like to know exactly what to expect whenever they enter any new situation. However with plenty of preparation and planning, it is possible to have a fun vacation that the whole family can enjoy. Here are a few top tips for travelling with a child with ADHD:

Find Routine Where You Can
Children with ADHD tend to be creatures of habit who are more comfortable within the confines of a regular and familiar routine.  Whilst it would be impossible to transfer all of their home routines to their vacation destination, establishing new routines and sticking to them during your stay will give your child some familiar navigation points, making the adjustment to vacation time much easier.  This routine can be anything that works for you and your family, from eating the same breakfast in the same cafĂ© each morning, to reading the same bedtime story from home each evening. If you know that your child has times of the day when their behaviour can be particularly difficult then these are the ideal times in which to aim to establish a new and familiar routine which may help to settle them.

Involve Your Child in the Vacation Planning
When entering a new situation, such as going on vacation, most children will benefit from knowing what is going to happen and what to expect, and this is particularly true for children who have ADHD.  Mark the date that you are going on your vacation in your child’s calendar, and then help them count down to the date each day: this will help them to begin mentally for preparing for the changes that vacations bring. When sharing your daily countdown, you should also share other vital details about your trip such as where your child will be sleeping and what daily activities they will be participating in: the more information you can share with your child, the easier the transition to a new vacation routine and schedule will be for them.

Schedule Some down Time into Your Vacation
Vacations are both exciting and expensive: the culmination of these two factors means that our instinct is to cram as much as we possibly can into every moment of our vacation time. However for a child who has ADHD, this constant stream of stimulation and excitement can simply become too overwhelming.  If you’re taking a vacation with a child who has ADHD then, it is important that you allow plenty of time in your day for your child to relax and enjoy some down time in a safe space away from the constant vacation stimulation. Bring along some of their favourite downtime activities from home: they will find comfort in their familiarity, and ensure that there is a nice comfortable space where they are free to relax. Drawing pads, reading books, or even some quiet screen time can all be beneficial.

A Great Time For Etiquette Reminders
ADHD children generally have poor social skills, and aren’t very good at picking up on cues for how they are expected to behave. Travelling and spending time on vacation is the perfect time to reinforce these etiquette messages and help your child to learn how and when they should be picking up on certain social signals. If you are visiting with friends or family, for example, then this is the ideal situation to remind them of when they need to say hello/goodbye, please/thank you, and the importance of having good manners and being aware of the feelings and needs of others. There are many benefits of travel for children with ADHD, and with the right planning and preparation, it can be a really wonderful experience for the whole family!

Extra Information
“ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder)”, Psych Guides
“7 tips for travelling with an ADHD/ADD child”, Everyday Health,
“What are some signs and symptoms of ADHD?” American Speech Language Hearing Association
“Travelling with ADHD: More than packing a suitcase”, Dana Rayburn: ADHD Coach and Author

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sites We Love: Safe Kids Worldwide!

In light of the increasing incidences of car seat recalls, it is becoming more and more important to register your car seat so that you can be contacted in the event of a recall.  Safe Kids Worldwide has everything you need to locate lists of recalls, help register your car seat and research other valuable car seat safety topics!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tactics for Discussing Childproofing with Grandparents!

image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
Sadly,  often times, new parents are uneasy bringing their children to stay at grandparents' homes because the space lacks childproofing measures and may present numerous potential hazards.  So how do you tell your parents (or in-laws) that you hesitate 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

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fall: The Perfect Season for 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!

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

image courtesy of Aduldej/
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, September 4, 2015

September: Child Safety Month!

Until you have an infant or 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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Before You Leave the Country...

image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/
Traveling out of the country with children can be a fantastic adventure!  But losing a passport or birth certificate can create utter havoc... so plan ahead.  In addition to packing all your important ID documents (i.e. passports, photo IDs, birth certificates, documents authorizing you to travel with your child outside the country if there are custodial issues), make a copy of each form along with your itinerary and leave them behind with a close family member or friend who can be reached in case of emergency. It may be the difference between a dream vacation and a real nightmare.  Safe and happy travels!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to School: Keeping Safety Top of Mind!

With kids heading back to school within the next few weeks, it seemed like a great time to share a few important safety tips!  Many of the helpful hints below are well known by most children, but with the excitement and confusion of returing to school it can be easy for kids to forget, or to be more inclined to inadvertantly put themselves into situations that could be dangerous.  Offering  these simple reminders may help keep safety fresh in their minds as they head off!

image courtesy of anankkml/
 Getting To and From School:
  • For younger students, parents should always provide supervision to help ensure their safe arrival to and from school.  It is not safe for young children to walk to and from school, even in groups. If your children wait for a bus, wait with them or make arrangements for other trusted adults to provide supervision at the bus stop.
  • For older students, if they take the bus, be certain they know which bus is theirs and remind them to stay with a group while standing at the bus stop.  If they walk or ride a bike to school, remind them to always take a friend with them when walking or biking.  Walk the route to and from school with your children before the start of the year and point out safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. Teach them never to take short-cuts; to avoid parks, vacant lots, and fields; and to always stay in well-lit areas.
  • All children taking the bus should be taught and reminded to: stay seated at all times, keep their heads and arms inside the bus, and keep their seatbelts fastened during the trip. When exiting the bus, they should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, exit from the front using the handrail to avoid falls, and cross the street far enough in front of the bus that they can make eye contact with the driver.
  • Students who ride a bicycle or scooter to school should wear an approved safety helmet and should be taught to obey all traffic signals, signs, and traffic officers. Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.
Stranger Danger:
  • Let your children know that if anyone harasses them or makes them feel scared or uncomfortable that they should trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person and tell a trusted adult. Impress upon them that it is ok to be rude to people who make them uncomfortable and that it is ok to say "no."
  • Teach your children if anyone tries to take them somewhere they should resist by hitting, kicking, and screaming.  Advise them to try to run away and call as much attention to themselves as possible by kicking and screaming “Fire!" or “You are not my father/mother!”
  • Remind your children never to accept a ride, money, candy, or gift from a stanger. Let them know that if anyone follows them in a vehicle they should turn around, put as much distance between themselves and that vehicle as possible, and run to a trusted adult (or the home of a trusted adult) and ask for help.
  • Be sure your children know that grownups should never approach a child to ask for directions, they should ask other adults.  Reassure them that it is ok to ignore a stranger trying to get them to approach a vehicle by attempting to solicit their help. 
Lines of Communication:
  • Be sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information on file for your children and confirm names of those authorized.
  • Always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always check with you before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they ok it with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.
  • Be sure your children know their home phone number and address, your cell number, the number of another trusted adult, and how to call 911 for emergencies.
Safe and happy Back-to-School!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

De-Stressing Back to School!

To help ease back-to-school apprehension, try to ease kids into a consistent school night routine  before the beginning of the school year.  In particular, be sure they:
  • get enough sleep and eat a healthy breakfast (set a reasonable bedtime to ensure they are well-rested, and help keep them alert with a balanced, low-sugar breakfast)
  • compile a list of need-to-know information to help them remember important details (i.e., class schedule, classroom numbers, teachers' names, bus drivers' names, and bus number, etc.)
  • simplify by using a calendar - record all assignment and project due dates, test dates, extracurricular activities, gym days, etc.
  • get organized and encourage them to set out everything they need the night before (completed homework and books should be placed in backpacks and clothes should be laid out for the next morning before bedtime)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Travel-Tot: Stay Safe As Home, Wherever You Roam!

image courtesy of stock images/
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 for everyone.

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 minutes' 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, and safety latches.  If you don't mind investing a bit more time, tools such as sanitizing wipes, a bath thermometer, and portable gates or guard rails can help provide additional protection from common hazards.

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, August 18, 2015

Apps We Love: Queen Bee in Paris!

image used with permission from Happy Dandelion
If you've ever dreamed of taking your kids on a European adventure, but just haven't managed to make it a financial reality, we have a great way to prepare their minds, hearts, and spirits for all that awaits them when they get there! From the creative minds at Happy Dandelion, comes the next installment in their captivating Tiny Tourist series: the Queen Bee in Paris app (don't miss their Little Lamb in Amsterdam app for an equally beautiful overview of that city!). This interactive, extraordinarily executed e-book provides little minds with a spectacular overview of the iconic images, culture, and history of France. At 26 pages, this e-book is an engrossing collection of adorable, animated illustrations, with snippets of some of the most famous masterpieces featured in the city's famed museums. 

While the app is perfect for children of any age, it bears mentioning that even adults will find it entertaining (look for nods to such historical figures as Marie Antoinette and the more contemporary Je Suis Charlie). Be sure to take advantage of the brief historical lessons available by swiping on each of the pages, and consider setting the app to the French language option to share the joy of a foreign tongue with your curious little learner! 

We just love this app, and can't recommend it highly enough!  So do yourself (and your child!) a favor and check it out today! You can download Queen Bee in Paris (iOS or Android) for only $4.99 - a total steal for this masterpiece in it's own right!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Destination: Plymouth, MA!

This past week, my family was fortunate to spend a long weekend visiting relatives up near Cape Cod. We try to visit at least once a year and always enjoy spending time with cousins, swimming, playing, eating and just catching up! This year, we were able to stay a little longer than normal and decided to check out some of the local historical and natural sights in the area, and with so many to choose from, that was no small feat!

Mayflower II, Plymouth Harbor
After much discussion, we decided to explore the Plimoth Plantation, a living museum boasting a re-creation of a Native American Homesite as well as a 17th century English Village and Craft House. The homesite featured actual Native persons demonstrating everyday tasks such as: canoe making, cooking, and weaving, all while fielding visitors' questions. Similarly, the village had costumed role-players who showed the tasks of everyday life in the 17th century and answered questions all while conducting their chores, which included everything from grinding grain to repairing perimeter fences to protect the village,  In the Craft House, artists demonstrated English lottery making, wood working and baking.  There is also normally a tour of a re-creation of the ship which brought the Pilgrims to the area, the Mayflower (called the Mayflower II); however, this particular weekend the ship was out for repairs. The whole experience was a delightful walking tour with something for everyone!

Humpback Whale
We also decided to go on our very first Whale Watch! We took a four-hour trip out of Plymouth Harbor on the Tails of the Sea; the ship was operated by Captain John's Whale Watching and Fishing Tours and offered two trips daily. We went in the afternoon and were astonished when we encountered a humpback mother and calf who were curious about the boat and who played and swam just off the bow for an hour! It was a truly beautiful experience, and one I know my daughter will never forget.  After the whale watch we were rushing to meet family for dinner, so we did not get to see the famed Plymouth Rock; but it is located right in Plymouth Harbor.

In all, the trip was a ton of fun, and while the Whale Watch might be tough with children under age 5, I would highly recommend it for those traveling with school-aged children. For both excursions, we brought a lot of sunscreen and water, and were glad to have both.  Also, unless it is the peak of summer, a light jacket will help keep passengers (particularly children) warm on the boat, which can get cool and breezy as you head out of the harbor. 

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, August 7, 2015

The 411 on Carseats!

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

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

A last resort if you forget or cannot bring your own car seat or booster, is a rental car seat.  Because it is impossible to know for certain if a rental seat has sustained an impact in a crash, it is always best to bring your child's own car seat; but a rental is better than nothing at all!  If the taxi or rental car agency offers to provide a safety restraint seat for your child, be certain to check that it is appropriate for your child's age, weight, and height.  Also be certain it is properly installed and that it is in working order with no broken straps or latches.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website provides a fabulous page with age-appropriate safety seat guidelines if you are unsure of what type of seat to request.

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

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The "Plane" Truth About Germs!

These fantastic tips come to you courtesy of our friends at Clorox®:

Researchers from Auburn University recently confirmed what we suspected all along – airplanes are crawling with nasty germs. In addition to common bacteria and viruses, airplanes can also harbor pathogens like E. coli, which can survive for hours, even days, on various parts of an airplane cabin.

Now before you panic and swear off air travel altogether, take a deep breath and remember there are ways to limit your exposure to bacteria and viruses on airplanes:
  1. Wash your hands. Often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of travel, washing your hands is one of the easiest things you can do to minimize exposure to pathogens.
  2. Pack Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes On the Go. They are the perfect size to bring in your purse or carry-on bag. Use them on your armrests, tray table and in the lavatory. Oh, and don’t forget to wipe down that window shade, you don’t know whose face was leaning up against it on the flight before yours!
  3. Don’t forget about the travel pillow. When you arrive home from vacation, be sure to spray your travel pillow with some Clorox® 4 in One Disinfecting Spray, which effectively sanitizes soft surfaces and reduces allergens such as dust mites (ew!).

Friday, July 31, 2015

Paying It Forward: Back-to-School

image courtesy of photomyheart/
I am one of those people who eagerly anticipates shopping for school supplies. It's not that I am desperate to see my daughter return to school, there's just something about brand new notebooks, pencils, and folders that has always set my heart aflutter. So now that I have confessed secret love of stationery, I can also admit that my daughter and I finished her back-to-school supply shopping... in July.  Seems like maybe my affinity for binder clips and post-its is inherited, but I digress.  The point is, we scored some amazing deals by shopping at the beginning of school supply season; deals that allow even me to donate without breaking my rather modest budget!  

In our town (as in most, I imagine), we have an annual drive for school supplies that are distributed to children's charities; items are collected and provided to children who may otherwise have done without, or sometimes to classrooms where they are provided to children in need. It's a fantastic way to make certain all our students get off to a good start by feeling prepared and equipped to take on a new school year! It's a cause that's near and dear to my heart as a parent, and I encourage everyone to participate if you can.  It can be as inexpensive as a 50-cent package of index cards, or as generous as a $50 giftcard - every little bit helps. If you are a fan of coupons, many times you can even score items for free!

If you wish to help, but are uncertain what to get, a gift card is always a good choice.  Generally speaking, however, if you walk into any office supply, pharmacy, food, or bog box store during the months of July, August, or September, you can't miss the school supply sales.  They may even have a list of items that are needed, or a collection box for donated supplies!  Providing even one item can truly make a difference for a child in need. So this year, when you head out to go supply shopping, pay it forward with an extra notebook, or folder, or box of crayons - your donation could inspire a child and help pave the road to a love of learning!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Products We Love: Tiny Love Fan Favorites For On-The-Go!

As any parent can attest, making a journey enjoyable with a young child or infant in tow can be challenging, that's why we are thrilled to feature a "not-to-be-missed" deal on some of our favorite distractions from one of our favorite companies, Tiny Love, below! 

Summer is peak travel time for families and it’s not always easy to carry all of baby’s gear and toys to make them feel at home while on the go. Now through August 3rd, Tiny Love, the leading developmental toy brand, is offering fans 20% off on-the-go products from mobiles to toys at

A sampling of available products on offer include:
  • Tiny Love’s Sunny Stroll attaches to baby’s car seat and stroller while providing 6 different baby-activated toys for fun on-the-go. The flexible arch bends forwards, backwards, up and down leaving baby with a sunny smile.
  • Tiny Love’s easy to attach Jittering Giraffe clips right onto baby’s stroller or car seat and encourages hand eye coordination.
  • Tiny Love’s Woodland Take Along Arch amuses and engages baby while on-the-go.

So head on over to Tiny Love and take advantage of these amazing deals - but remember, you only have until August 3rd, so hurry!!!!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pet-Friendly Travels:!

When our daughter was two, we adopted a lab-mix puppy from a rescue shelter; a decision that changed our lives forever in ways we could not imagine.  Prior to getting a pet, we had traveled freely and worried little about where we would stay, often making spontaneous trips for weekends or holidays. However, having a puppy added a new wrinkle to the story.  Kipper, as she became known, was not terribly good in the car, would run away at every available chance, and was naturally curious, energetic, and friendly (which while admirable traits in a family pet, are not universally appreciated by people seeking tranquility and relaxation on vacation!).  

Fortunately, we are blessed to have a number of family members who also love animals, and who happily take Kipper in when we travel, and we reciprocate when they vacationed (in a happy coincidence, all the dogs in the family play well together and it was a very comfortable, cost-effective solution for us all!).  But what if you want to travel with your beloved pet?  I'll admit, it was a question that hadn't crossed my mind until a girlfriend and her family did just that, bringing their new dog to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I asked her how she had located a pet-friendly resort, and she shared a most amazing resource with me:!

BringFido is a dog travel directory that provides unbiased reviews, detailed pet policy information, and online reservations at more than 25,000 pet friendly hotels through a partnership with Travelocity. Information is also available on thousands of bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds that welcome pets in 150 countries worldwide.

When making vacation plans, dog owners look to for the lowdown on both airlines and hotel pet policies, as well as recommendations on dog beaches, off-leash parks, outdoor restaurants, and other animal attractions in more than 10,000 cities around the world. Bring Fido even has a toll-free number (877-411-FIDO) dog owners can call if they need assistance locating a pet friendly hotel at the next exit on the highway, an animal hospital that's open at 4am, or the best restaurant in Little Italy that allows dogs to sit at its outdoor tables.

Since launching in April 2005, has helped more than half a million people take their dog on vacation. So if your family plans to hit the road and wants to bring the whole family, is the place to go for everything you need to know.

Safe, happy, and furry travels!  
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bites and Stings: Helpful Tips!

image courtesy of SweetCrisis/
With summer in full swing, families and, especially, children are spending more time outside, but we're not the only ones enjoying the warmer weather; spiders, bees, and a variety of other bugs are out in swarms!  Most bug bites simply result in general discomfort and anxiety, but it is important to remember that some bites and stings can lead to infections or trigger serious allergic reactions. Below is information on how to treat simple bites and stings, as well as the signs that a serious reaction may be occurring.

Spider Bites

Know your spiders: The majority of spiders found in the U.S. are harmless, except brown recluse and black widow spiders.

The brown recluse spider (a small brown spider with a small violin-shaped mark on its back - see here) is found primarily in the midwest and south. Their bites can cause swelling and changes in skin color and blistering. Rarely, brown recluse bites can result in sunken ulcerated sores at the bite site, which can become infected if not treated properly.

The black widow spider (a shiny black spider with an orange hourglass shaped mark on its underside - see here) is found all over North America. Black widow bites can result in painful cramps within a few short hours of the bite; the cramps generally radiate from the bite location outward. In addition, black widow bites can also cause nausea, tremors, paralysis, vomiting, chills, fever, and muscle pain. If your child experiences any of these symptoms (or if you suspect the bite may have been caused by a black widow) go to the emergency room IMMEDIATELY.
For other spider bites:
  • Clean the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • To help prevent infection, apply antibiotic ointment.

Stinging Insects

Know your stings: When a bee stings, it leaves behind its stinger and venom sac. If the stinger is still in the skin, try to extract it as quickly as possible with sterilized tweezers.  Wasps do not lose their stingers when they attack (that is why they can sting repeatedly).  Should your child experience a sting:
  • Clean the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • For itching, give an over-the-counter oral antihistamine (with your doctor's approval); follow dosing instructions for your child's age and weight. You could also apply calamine lotion to the sting area.
  • Seek medical attention if:
    • the sting is in the mouth, throat, or lips - such stings can quickly result in severe swelling that can block airways.
    • a rash or swelling develops around the sting site.
  • Seek IMMEDIATE medical attention if you notice any of the following signs, which may indicate a serious or potentially life-threatening allergic reaction:
    • wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing,
    • tightness in throat/chest,
    • swelling of the lips, tongue, or face,
    • dizziness or loss of consciousness, or
    • nausea or vomiting.

Tick Bites

Know your ticks: The most common types of disease carrying ticks are dog ticks, deer ticks, and lone star ticks; deer ticks are the most common carriers of Lyme disease, and dog ticks and lone star ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Fever. Particularly during summer months, it is imperative that parents routinely check kids and pets for ticks, especially if they've been in or around wooded areas.
If you find a tick on your child:
  • Contact your pediatrician immediately.
  • Use sterilized tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it releases (avoid twisting or yanking the tick). If possible save the tick for identification purposes.
  • Clean the bite site with alcohol.
  • NEVER use petroleum jelly or a lit match to try to kill or remove a tick. Using either may cause the insect to burrow deeper which makes extraction more difficult and increases the possibility of disease transmission.

Other Biting Insects

There are countless other insects that can impart bites that may result in discomfort, itching, and even possible infection.  Mosquitoes, black flies, midges, fleas, and biting flies have all been associated with transmitting diseases that can be devastating to humans and animals.  If your child is bitten by any insect (whether you witness the bite or not) and develops any of the following symptoms, seek medical help IMMEDIATELY:
  • rash,
  • fever,
  • swelling or discoloration at the bite location or surrounding areas,
  • any oozing discharge from the bite location, or
  • severe cramping or vomiting.
If your child experiences an insect bite with no apparent allergic or toxic reaction, simply:
  • Clean the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • For itching, apply calamine lotion to the bite area.
Safe, happy, and healthy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, July 17, 2015

Know the Signs: Dry and Delayed Drowning

Summer is here, and with it, the fun of swimming!  While every parent knows the necessity of vigilant supervision whenever children are near water, there are some dangers that can go undetected simply because they are not well-enough known.  It is common knowledge that drowning is a leading cause of death among children, but how many of us know that children can suffer the effects of drowning hours after having been swimming  due to water inhalation?  Or that a sudden inrush of water into one's mouth can cause the larynx to spasm and snap shut resulting in asphyxiation?  Or that jumping into extremely cold water can result in cardiac arrest?  There is growing concern surrounding these incidences and knowing how to prevent such tragedies starts with understanding what to look for.

Recently there have been well-publicized, terrifying reports of children who have "drown" hours after returning home from a day spent swimming.  It bears clarifying that while these are often reported as "dry" drownings because the child was not physically in the water at the time of death, such incidences would more accurately be described as "delayed (or secondary)" drownings.  That said, while there is a difference between "dry" and "delayed" drowning, both can lead to respiratory arrest and can culminate in cardiac arrest and brain death.

The main difference between "dry" drowning and "delayed" drowning is the presence or absence of water in the victim's lungs. True "dry" drowning deaths do not involve the presence of any liquid in the lungs.  Conversely, "delayed" drownings are marked by the presence of some (usually small) amount of liquid in the lungs.


Dry Drowning

Though not completely understood, "dry" drownings are thought to be caused by: 1. a sudden rush of water into the throat that causes the airway to snap shut (a condition known as a laryngospasm), resulting in asphyxiation, and/or 2. the shock of sudden entry into extremely cold water that causes the heart to stop.

While the incidence of "delayed" drowning (where liquid is present in the lungs) is relatively rare, true "dry" drownings account for ten to fifteen percent of all drowning deaths. Considering that approximately 4,000 people drown in the U.S. each year, that means "dry" drowning kills approximately 400-600 U.S. victims annually. "Dry" drowning poses a significant enough mortality risk that those who swim (or supervise swimmers) should know what can be done to decrease the chance of its happening to them or their loved ones.

To help prevent "dry" drowning, swimmers should keep their mouths closed when jumping or diving into water, thereby protecting the larynx from a sudden inrush of water that could cause it to spasm and cut off the airway. Also, do not dive or jump into extremely cold water; instead enter cold water gradually. Those who have a history of heart or respiratory problems should avoid entering very cold water at all, even if they plan to go slowly.


Delayed Drowning

Unlike "dry" drowning, "delayed" drowning takes longer to occur and can be treated if caught early.  A "delayed" drowning episode (where blood is not being properly oxygenated within the body due to a respiratory intake of liquid) is marked by the following indicators: persistent coughing, shortness of breath, painful or shallow breathing, pain in chest, change in mood, change in mental status, and/or lethargy. Other signs of poorly oxygenated blood include increased agitation when lying flat, sweaty skin, or skin color changes such as paleness or blue/grayish cast.

Remember, children's bodies cannot compensate for very long without proper oxygenation and "crash" rapidly once these signs are present, so quick action is imperative. "Delayed" drowning usually occurs within 1 to 24 hours after an incident of respiratory intake of liquid. If it is caught early, it can be treated by supplying oxygen to the lungs. Call 911 or rush immediately to the emergency room if there are signs or symptoms indicating risk of a "delayed" drowning episode.

Safe and happy summer.

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sunscreens: What to Look For!

image courtesy of artur84/

According to the American Cancer Society, over 2 million people are diagnosed every year with skin cancers.  So before you or your children head out for the day, be sure you apply sunscreen.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends you use a sunscreen that provides:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (from UVA and UVB rays).
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater.
  • Water resistance.

In addition, the AAD strongly advises that you apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors, use lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Concerned about potentially hazardous chemicals that can be found in some sunscreens? The Environmental Working Group released its list of the best sunscreens in May 2015; check out their searchable list here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Comprehensive Campsite: Courtesy of

It's summer and, for many families, that means camping time!!! Whether you're a veteran camper or planning your first family adventure, preparation is key and we have just the resource for you! The article below is reprinted with permission from and was written by Amy Whitley - we simply love the thoroughness of the lists and the fantastic infographic featured at the end! So get camping and make some magical memories!

Camping Packing Lists and Tips
Everything You Need to Bring to the Campsite

Family camping trips are an excellent way to spend time together in the outdoors and enjoy a vacation on a budget, provided you have some camping tips and hacks up your sleeve. Otherwise, it can take as long to prepare and pack for a camping trip as the trip itself! To ensure that you’re ready for that next weekend trip to the woods, use the following camping packing lists and tips.

The Camp Kitchen

Organizing and packing your camp kitchen is often the most complicated part of preparing for a camping trip. The workaround is having dedicated camping pots and pans, utensils, and kitchen gadgets stored apart from your home kitchen, which will save you time and effort in packing and unpacking daily supplies. Here’s what you need:

Kitchen Packing List:

  • Camp stove: Opt for a lightweight backpacking stove or traditional car camping stove.
  • Fuel: Make sure you have the correct propane fuel for your stove.
  • Plates, cups, and eating utensils (1 per family member): Use paper products or opt for reusable mess kits, which are available in outdoor stores.
  • Tablecloth: Buy a cheap one at a dollar store.
  • Dishwashing tub: Opt for a plastic tub or nylon, sealed, collapsible tub.
  • Dishwashing supplies: Paper or cloth towels or dishrags; dish soap; and sponge.
  • Matches
  • Fire starter
  • Ice
  • Cooler
  • Tarp
  • Grill (optional): Most campsites provide a grill over the fire pit.
  • Camp table (optional): Helpful for organization, but not necessary.
  • Kitchen tools/utensils: Spatula, all-purpose knife, potholders, serving ladle, butter knife, tongs, long skewers for s'mores or meat-on-a-stick, and tin foil.
Try this kitchen packing hack: Store your kitchen tools and utensils in a toiletry bag or other small bag to keep them organized and clean between uses at a dusty campground. It will be easy to hang them from a tree branch for easy use when you’re at your site.

The Camp Sleeping Quarters

Everyone wants to be warm and cozy at night! Whether you’re camping in warm or colder climates, everyone in your family will need the essentials to ensure that they’re safe at night. Store tents and sleeping pads in a second large tote, making it easy to pack up the car and head to the campsite at any time.

Sleeping Packing List:

  • Tent(s): Opt for one large family tent or 2–3 smaller tents. Larger tents have the advantage of space, but small tents fit in cozier campsites.
  • Sleeping bags: Buy sleeping bags rated at 20 degrees F, unless you know you’ll be camping in colder climates. A 20–40 degrees F bag works for most camping experiences. Down or down-alternative bags pack down smaller and are lighter and warmer than cotton or nylon/polyester bags.
  • Sleeping pads: Opt for thick blow-up mattresses for car camping, or save space with backpacking pads that inflate with just a few breaths of air.
  • Ground tarp: Don’t skip the ground tarps. They protect your tent floor and keep the dew and cold at bay.
  • Towels and personal hygiene items: One per family member!
  • Flashlights or headlamps: One per family member. Everyone should have their own light source for safety and convenience.
  • Lantern: One per family will do. Ideally, your lantern can transition from kitchen area to tent and back.

Try this sleeping quarters hack: Buy a ground tarp one size larger than your tent, and use the overhanging space as a place to take off shoes and wipe off feet before entering the tent.

The Campfire Area

Camping just isn’t camping without a comforting campfire, right? The campfire area is important, but there’s good news: it’s easy to pack for!

Campfire area packing list:

  • Firewood: Buy on-site, or save money by buying it at a local grocery store.
  • Matches and fire starter: You’ll already have these in your camp kitchen supplies. The type of fire starter you use is up to you; we like fire disks or fire cubes.
  • Axe or hatchet: Useful for breaking down firewood. Store away from children.
  • Camp chairs: Some campsites include a bench around the fire ring, but for most, you’ll want collapsible camp chairs. To save space in the car, opt for the smaller, lighter versions sold in backpacking stores.
  • S’mores: Be sure to bring the ingredients for this tasty campfire treat!
  • Deck of cards or board game: Everyone enjoys playing a game around the fire.
  • Lantern: This item is already with your sleeping supplies!

Try this campfire area hack: Never bring firewood all the way from home. It takes up lots of room in your car or truck, which could otherwise be used for other items, and it could be banned from your campground if you’re driving any distance. Campgrounds often require local wood to be burned in an effort to reduce foreign insect species from invading new areas.

Miscellaneous Items Campers Love

Think you have everything you need? Probably not! Read the list of extras below and decide what you can’t live without!

  • Insect repellent or wristbands
  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper and shovel (if you don’t have a campground restroom)
  • Inflatable wading pool for small children to play in
  • Playpen for babies to stay off the dirt (sometimes)
  • Clothespins and a clothesline to hang wet clothing
  • Extra sheet or towel to hang in the tent to create “rooms”
  • Hammock
  • Baby wipes to clean hands and faces
  • Camera
  • Water/wading shoes
  • Small net and bucket to use in streams
  • Small toys for kids to use in camp
  • Bikes or scooters for larger campgrounds

When you get settled in at the campsite, don't forget to pack a list of camp rules and games for kids. Kids and campgrounds go together perfectly, as long as a few safety rules are in place. Make sure kids know the following in the camp kitchen, sleeping, and campfire areas:

  1. Never run around the campfire.
  2. Ask before using any kitchen knives or hatchets.
  3. Turn off flashlights and headlamps after using to save batteries.
  4. Ask a parent before exploring a campground.

Once you’re set up at your campground, entertain kids at the campsite by encouraging them to collect natural objects like sticks, moss, leaves, or bark to make into art pieces. Kids also love having scavenger hunts around the campground (bring a list of items to collect) or riding bikes or scooters around the camp loops. If you have a cell phone with you, encourage kids to look for geocache treasures. There are caches at almost every campground across the United States.