Category Archives: Toddlers
The last part of my mini series on travelling with toddlers is all about keeping your toddler entertained on those long haul flights. So we had 12 + 10.5 hours to get through in one go … which is probably about the most extreme flying experience with a toddler you can have on planet earth. So I feel well qualified to sharing some tips and tricks.
Our little man is now 2 years old, which in our case means he is too young to fully appreciate the in-flight entertainment (which Korean Air doesn’t even offer on all routes @#&*^@*&^#!!! so on some flights you are stuck with 2 inappropriate films which are shown on a big screen right in front of the bulk-head seats where you will most likely be sitting). But he’s also old enough to want to be entertained non-stop.
So – here’s the long-haul survival list (in order of keeping you sane)
#1 The overall winner and best toy purchase ever made is the Doodle Pad. It’s the most versatile, unmessy, imaginative and CHEAP toy you’ll ever buy (I got ours for $12). It’s a true life saver as you can draw stuff, erase it and draw some more for quite a while (it typically kept our man entertained for up to 1h at a time).
#2 Sticker booklets – almost as versatile as the Doodle Pad, slightly more messy but still pretty imaginative and cheap. You can get them with different themes (animals, cartoons, sports, etc). To Korean Air’s credit – they actually handed some out during the flight. It’s definitely worth investing a few bucks to get a handful of them though.
#3 Model airplanes in all shapes and sizes – you can get some really simple “assemble in less than 1 minute” sets or cuddly toy planes for next to nothing. Toy planes are great fun when you are actually on a plane as you can re-enact take-offs and landings on your tray table (and your neighbour’s tables). It’s also great fun to watch your fellow passengers when you cover off the “unlikely” scenarios of mid-air crash, landing on water, air-pockets, loss of cabin-pressure, fire on board, lightning strikes or snakes on a plane (especially if you do this during turbulence). For the latter scenario you can sing “the wheels on the bus” with more suitable lyrics “the snakes on the plane go tsss tss tsss, zsss zszz zsss, tsss zss ttss …”
So I’m very proud to say that after reviewing two travel accessories we didn’t have on our latest trip, we had all of the above. YAY.
The second time I realized I’m definitely not the coolest traveling dad was when I came across the “Air-O-Swiss Travel Ultrasonic Humidifier” (you gotta love the name). It’s the latest must-have gadget for “keeping it fresh” while traveling. The Air-O-Swiss Travel Humidifier is a small device that humidifies a room (surprise) … BUT here’s the cool feature: You can use just about any water bottle as a water tank. It also comes with a range of different plugs and adapters for most countries (you’d ever want to travel to). Finally with a slick and clean design it really is the iPhone of Humidifiers – perfect for creating a healthy micro-climate in your office when you’re not traveling (it’s also a great conversation starter or distractor for all those awkward HR conversations).
Now why would you want to want a travel humidifier in the first place? Since most hotel room windows cannot be opened anymore these days a humidifier is your only hope to create a room climate with higher humidity than normal (or you could just leave the shower on for the whole night … not very water wise though). As all clever dads know, a humidifier is probably one of the very few things that can help your child (or you) to settle a cough without any medicine-related side effects. In many countries the use of cough relief drugs for children under the age of 5 is not recommended. So natural remedies like honey / herbal infusions and a well humidified room are your best bets to get some relief from constant coughing.
The Air-O-Swiss Travel Humidifier uses high-frequency vibrations to generate a micro-fine cool (important!) mist that is blown into the room. It looks very cool when it does that … they should include a humidifying feature in mobile phones! Anyway, the Air-O-Swiss thing will set you back about $60 so check it out as a possible gadget for your next trip – I haven’t managed to convince the wife yet (just waiting for an opportune day in her cycle …).
ps.: DIYFather.ocm has not received any gifts, compensation or other incentives to write this article
During a recent family trip I realized that, unfortunately I’m just not “with it” when it comes to travel gadgetry for young children. As much as I hate to admit it but there were actually other parents with way cooler travel accessories.
The first gadget to shatter my daddy cool confidence was the “Trunki” ride-on suitcase which I spotted at Seoul Airport. If you’ve ever had to transfer between flights and had your stroller taken off you just before you got on the first plane you will REALLY appreciate this one. Because what happens when you don’t have a stroller while transferring is that you’ve got about 27 bags with all the toys, food, gear to change your little one and your own bag … PLUS your over-tired, grumpy or hyper-active child who wants to check out the airport.
This is where the $50 (or so) you’ve paid for your Trunki suitcase really pay off. Trunkis are small enough to take on board as cabin baggage and they solve your two essential problems: carrying lots of stuff and having something you can put your child in (or on) to haul them around endless airport corridors. You can put a decent amount of toys and food inside your Trunki (if you are lucky you might even fit the changing gear in there as well) and your toddler will almost certainly enjoy riding on top of it. The suitcase comes with a pull-along cord so you can easily carry your own stuff in a shoulder bag or backpack.
Trunkis are recommended for children aged 3-6 years but I’ve seen parents with 2-year olds use it and it worked a treat. I’d recommend doing a few practice runs with your toddler before you travel so they get used to the experience and know where to hold on to. All in all it should be a real stress-buster for traveling with young kids.
Ps: DIYFather has not received any compensation, gifts or other incentives for writing this article.
If you’ve got a toddler at home there’s some really cool stuff you can do once you’re done with all the other Fathers Day treats.
Check out the following ideas:
- create an obstacle course for your toddler in the living room (using furniture, chairs and other props)
- get down on all fours and do a horsey race with your toddler (some toddlers can crawl really fast!)
- do some face painting (check here for inspiration)
- make some play dough out of flower and water (recipe here) and make shapes and animals with your little champ
- get your hands on some bubble liquid (or use dish washing liquid) and blow bubbles
- read them your favourite story (when you were a kid – if you don’t have the book, google it … it may be available online for free now)
- give your little champ some food they haven’t tried before and take a photo of their face as they are eating it (alternatively just give them spaghetti with tomato sauce and a spoon and watch the drama unfold)
- perform an air guitar version (+vocals if you like) of your favourite song of all times
- make a toy for them – e.g. fill a drinks bottle with water and glitter
- go for a walk or trip and show them your favourite spot in the area
Whatever you do have a great Father’s Day – you’re an awesome dad! Now check out 10 things to do with your kids on Father’s Day Part III – prescholers.
Mother’s Day tends to sneak up on us every year … if you’re anything like us you probably haven’t got a present yet or thought of what to get for your good lady. Panic not … here’s our last minute list of free presents to help you out:
NB: Some of these you can also use for your own mother … you’ll know which ones
1) Make a Mother’s Day card from anything that your kids have drawn or painted on (check with your day care, pre-school or school in case you can’t find anything suitable in the house). Make sure you get your kids to write their names on it or do it for them if they are too small
2) Give your partner a few hours of extra sleep – a recent survey found that one of the things most mums wanted for Mother’s Day was to simply sleep in or sleep a few hours with no interruption. So take your babies, toddlers or kids away for a few hours and give your partner a nice break.
3) Make a TLC voucher – e.g. for a back rub, or do something for her that you know she really doesn’t like doing
4) Pick some nice family photos from your phone or camera and print out at work and use to make a Mother’s Day “post card” – write a nice message and get your kids to write on it or sign it as well (or do it on their behalf if they are too small). Go down to your post office and get it stamped so it looks like a real post card … then tell her on Sunday morning that there was a special delivery.
5) Record a video of yourself (and the kids) with a special message for her (or sing a song if you dare) and upload to youtube – get your kids to give her a piece of paper (or card) on Sunday with the URL on it
Whatever you do it’s probably a good idea to go the extra mile on Mother’s Day to make sure your partner has a nice day. It also doesn’t hurt to tell her what a wonderful job she does and how cool it is to have her as the mother of your kids. Finally – don’t forgot to do something for your own mother as well!
Have a great Mother’s Day
ps.: Don’t forget to do something special for your pregnant partner this Mother’s Day
Guest post by Patrick Bennett, Uncommon Caribbean
A year ago, I marveled at my son Trinidad’s magnificent first year of life. In the first 10 months, he managed to visit 10 different islands! I can’t imagine how his baby brain processed this period of perpetual beauty and exploration, but I tried to outline all I hoped he’d learned along the way.
Now, as Trinidad turns two, he’s slowed down a bit in his old age.
Well, not by his choosing. Trips like the one where I tackled Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the West Indies, just didn’t seem kid friendly, so unfortunately he had to sit out a few of this past year’s adventures.
But don’t feel too sorry for the little guy, there were still more than enough opportunities to learn a few things at new ports of call throughout the islands.
1. Barbados – Sometimes travel can be the best medicine.
Trinidad taking his medicine
When we landed on Barbados for a long trip over the holidays, poor Trinidad was suffering from molars violently bursting through his gums. Fevers, pain, and intestinal distress were all making him miserable in frigid New York City, but once he had sand between his toes and the sea stretching out incomprehensibly before him, his mood seemed to quickly improve.
Funny how that happens. At a time when people seem to push pills on kids for every little thing, this is one lesson I hope he takes to heart.
2. Barbados again – Share your best stuff with your friends.
Traveling Toddlers Take Barbados
Upon returning to the big city with tales of how incredible a stay at our Perfect Fantasy Beach House in Freight’s Bay had been, all the talk on the playground was Barbados, Barbados, Barbados. Pretty quickly, talk turned into action and before we knew it we were right back on Bim, but this time with five (yes FIVE!) toddlers in tow plus their parents.
What could have been a nightmare turned out to be a magical, multi-day playdate like no other. Days overflowed with sun, sand and shenanigans. During the night, I imagine the same sunny scenes danced in their heads until the kids woke up to do it all over again.
Remember Trinidad, sharing really is caring.
3. Viareggio, Italy – The Caribbean is where your heart is.
Keeping it Caribbean in Italy
OK, so this isn’t an island and its sandy shores border the Mediterranean, not the Caribbean. But on the occasions when we do find ourselves so far from the islands, I’m always amazed at how deeply this little boy carries his father’s home region in his soul. From the way he pronounces “watah” like a true Trini, to him munching on coconut even on Italian beaches, to his favorite bedtime book “One Love by Cedella Marley” — the Caribbean never seemed too far.
Few things would make me happier than for the West Indies to always be a part of whoever he becomes.
4. St. Maarten – Sacrifice.
The Traveling Toddler leaves SXM behind
As I mentioned last year, Trinidad’s first Caribbean travel experience ever was to double destination of St. Maarten. He loved it about as much as a three month old can love anything, but this time around SXM was just a stop on the way to our final destination.
So, no hiking to Happy Bay, no afternoons for liming at Cupecoy Beach, no delectable dinners in Grand Case. We simply landed, took a taxi to the ferry, and were gone!
In this day and age when kids seem to be learning that somehow it’s perfectly logical that they should be able to have their cake and eat it, too — I can only hope that the boy learns that sometimes you have to give up something awesome to get something awesome.
5. Anguilla – The best things in life are free.
Trinidad the Traveling Toddler
And what awesome destination could possibly pull us away from St. Martin? Anguilla, of course!
Once on-island, we were soon basking in the luxurious environs of the impeccable Ani Villas. The word “posh” simply doesn’t do this place justice! Yet no matter how much I might have loved the hot tub perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking Little Bay Beach, or the pristine pools that shimmered off into infinity, or the treats prepared by our private chef — little Trinidad only had one thing on his mind: beach!
It’s funny how foreign it can feel to spend time with a human who completely places experiences above everything else. Possessions? Wealth? Status? Whatever, let’s run in the watah!
Who’s the one that’s supposed to be learning from all of this again?
Trinidad, you can’t possibly know how special you are to me.
Happy Birthday, son.
By Patrick Bennett
Storytelling used to be the only way families could pass on knowledge from generation to generation. Moms and dads did it a lot because that was probably the easiest way to get the kids to sleep. Recently a study revealed that over 1/3 of all toddlers and preschoolers in the US have a TV in their nursery / bedroom. As a result storytelling and bedtime reading is disappearing quickly and is often replaced with audio books on tablets or DVDs.
Some parents still choose to read and with millions of (free) ebooks available reading is often easier than to come up with your own story. Reading to kids is clearly a good thing however Rick Polito, creator of the Shake-N-tell app believes it is also very important for kids to hear original stories to stimulate their imagination.
Kids enjoy stories that are about things that have happened in their family. You could call these stories “family non-fiction”. So tell your kids about adventures you had when you were young, let them know how what happened during the day or just make up a story. Of course as parents we are often tired and just want to get the kids off to bed so we can sit down and relax. Fortunately there’s now and app to help parents along with storytelling. It’s called Shake-N-Tell and it’s free! This application helps by providing the bones of a story and you simply fill in the gaps. Even better – the kids can help fill in the gaps.
So give storytelling with Shake’n Tell a try and see what happens!
Inspired by nationalnannies.com
One of the scariest things about hiring a nanny is the thought that your child will not like them and will be miserable while you’re away. This is even more difficult to assess when you need to get a nanny at a stage when your little one hasn’t grasped the necessary language skills yet. So what do you do? Here’s a few tips:
- Behavioral Cues – observe how your child behaves when the nanny arrives or leaves. The first few seconds when your little one sees the nanny provides a crucial tell for your little one’s feelings about the situation. Refusing to engage with the nanny when she arrives, fleeing or crying are some obvious cues but there may be more sublte signals as well like showing little interest playing with the nanny or showing no interest when the nanny leaves. If your child is particularly prone to separation anxiety (i.e. when you leave the room and your little one can’t see you) you may need to spend more time on looking for subtle cues (e.g. a hidden observation of your little one with the nanny)
- Interaction with the nanny – You need to make time in the early days (after just hiring a nanny) so you can observe how your nanny interacts with your child. This is a crucial period and you need to allow time for things to get settled. So allow for a certain “overlap” period where you gradually remove yourself from the situation. It’s natural for your child to be more interested in your presence than that of a new nanny, but if your little one continues to behave standoffish or hesitant to engage with the nanny, it could be an indicator that their relationship isn’t developing well.
- Ask verbal toddlers – Even if your toddlers’s language skills aren’t super advanced you can still get a general idea of how they are feeling by asking a few pointed questions. Questions like: did you have fun with
, did you enjoy playing with , do you want to come back tomorrow? Etc. Bear in mind, that toddlers can’t always distinguish between fantasy and reality so just keep asking and keep observing.
The good news is that you know your child better than anyone else and by being observant and making time specifically for this task you will be able to tell whether your little one is enjoying the nanny’s company (and how capable the nanny is). We’d discourage the use of hidden nanny-cams as this sets you up for a dishonest relationship from the start.
Written by DIYFather, inspired by gonannies.com
You may have never thought of your bathroom as a hazardous space but once you’ve got young children in the house – think again. Children can drown in 2 inches of water and sadly, each year over 100 children in the US drown in bathtubs, spas, hot tubs, buckets and toilets. So child proofing your bathroom is an important task you shouldn’t put off. Here’s some simple steps on what you can do:
- Install Toilet Lid Locks – Babies at a certain age love to pull themselves up with the aid of surrounding low surfaces and toddlers that are just beginning to walk are both a bit top-heavy, making it easy for them to tumble forward when they look down. When that stable surface is a toilet, and the water inside the bowl captures a little one’s attention, they can pitch forward and drown in the water before anyone finds out. Even if your little one doesn’t drown, he could contract any one of a handful of messy illnesses from the bacteria living in the water, so it’s best to install a toilet lid lock; for the record, most adults can operate these very easily.
- Spring For Cabinet Latches – Latches designed to keep kids from accessing the contents of cabinets are very effective for keeping the little ones from getting their hands on stuff that is not suitable for them. These relatively cheap and effective latches (or locks) can be installed easily, and provide parents with an extra measure of peace of mind.
- Move Sharp Objects and Chemicals Upwards – Any childproofing should be backed up with common-sense approaches like moving sharp objects, cleaning fluids, and other dangerous items upwards and out of the reach of inquisitive little hands and minds.
- Keep Styling Appliances and Other Electrical Items Out of Reach – Hairdryers, curling irons and other electrical items can be dangerous on more than one level; in addition to the electrocution risk that they can present if dropped into standing water, many also generate enough heat to severely burn kids’ delicate skin. So move them out of the way too.
- Treat Medications Like Poison – Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be lethal to children, who may confuse the brightly colored pills for candy or sweets. In order to prevent intoxication from swalling medication, parents should secure all medical drugs in a container that’s kept well out of reach.
- Adjust Your Water Heater Temperature Settings – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that hot water heater temperature settings be kept at or below 120deg F (50 deg C) to prevent painful and potentially severe scalding.
While safety measures and childproofing methods are an essential part of helping to keep your children safe in their home, there is absolutely no substitute for supervision. Never leave a child unattended in the bathroom, especially in the bathtub, for any length of time whatsoever. A young child can drown in the bathtub in the blink of an eye, so be sure to take him out of the tub and carry him with you if the telephone or doorbell rings. Even better take a cordless phone or mobile phone with you to the bathroom!
Inspired by nannybabysitter.com
Having a new baby in the house is often a shock to the system for first-time parents. Not only has the dynamic changed (there is an extra person in the house now) but also there are lurking dangers that went entirely unseen while the house was inhabited solely by adults. Knowing that your tiny bundle of joy will soon be crawling, and then walking, adds a bit of urgency to the task of childproofing the house. In fact it’s never too early to childproof the house. Kids grow up quickly, and it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Here’s a few tips for childproofing the kitchen:
Safety Gates – If possible keep babies out of the kitchen altogether … especially when you’re not near by. By placing baby safety gates at the entrance to the kitchen you can prevent a crawling baby or adventuros toddler from slipping into this household danger zone without the knowledge of an adult.
Cabinet Locks – Aside from the dangerous substances, utensils, and other items that are often stored in lower cabinets, there is also a very real risk of injured hands and fingers. So get cabinet locks to prevent any potential harm to your baby.
Outlet covers – The small, translucent plastic outlet covers that most adults remember from their own childhoods are still commercially available; they do, however, present a choking hazard and can also be quickly figured out by observant toddlers. Kids learn by mimicking adults, so it won’t take too many instances of watching you remove an outlet cover before using it for your child to grasp the concept. Since small outlet covers may not be ideal, it might be wise to consider full outlet plates that cover both sockets and immediately slide back into place after use.
Oven Locks – Ovens can be purchased with a factory installed lock, but if your oven doesn’t have one you can purchase after-market varieties that can be installed on your existing oven as well. This will prevent curious little hands from landing themselves in the emergency room with severe burns.
Cleaners and Other Chemicals – Installing cabinet locks is a wise idea because they can keep kids from pinching their fingers or accessing dangerous items inside. However, as a general rule all cleaning fluids and other potentially harmful chemicals (dishwasher tablets!) need to be moved to upper cabinets, way out of kids’ reach.
Garbage Cans – While a rational adult would assume that the off-putting odor of a garbage can would be repellent enough on its own, there’s something about the refuse heap that captures kids’ curiosity. To keep your baby or toddler out of the smelly, dirty, and bacteria-laden trash, move the can to a cabinet or invest in a model with a childproof lid.
Small Appliances – Unplugging small applianced, like a blender, mixer, or toaster, can be a difficult thing for new parents to remember, however, it is another useful habit to get used to avoid the risk of potential injury, damage or mess. Welcome to parenthood
The earlier you start childproofing your house the longer you’ll have to become accustomed to the various measures before your child will explore the various hazards. So get on to this task and be prepared for when the little one arrives in your house!