What to Pack for a Family Road Trip

Family Road Trip | Douglas Cuddle Toy

 

Heading off on a vacation this summer? For most families, skipping expensive airfare and opting to drive makes a lot more financial sense. In addition to keeping more cash in your pocket, road trips are also an opportunity to create new memories together as a family (while making pit stops at cool destinations along the way)!

If you’re getting ready to hit the road with kids in tow, there are some things you definitely don’t want to leave home without. To make a long drive as comfortable as possible for your little ones, here’s a roundup of five must-have things to pack before hitting the highway.

Your child’s favorite loveys

Chances are, your child has a treasured stuffed pal or blanket that feels like part of the family. Being that it is a family vacation, be sure to bring these loveys along for the ride.

Since road trips require long stretches of time in the car, it’s only natural for children to grow restless and cranky sooner or later. Having their favorite lovey (formally known as a transitional object) can help soothe crabby little ones.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), transitional objects are a perfectly healthy part of development. Why? They help children cope with unfamiliarity while providing a sense of comfort and safety. Sshlumpies make for an ideal lovey object because they’re portable, cute and (most importantly) super soft! The AAP stresses that softness is part of a transitional object’s appeal.

Having a lovey in the backseat will also help your child sleep away some of the drive.

Snacks to keep those hungry bellies full

Nothing will throw off your travel time like having to continually stop for food. Be sure to pack a good supply of grab-and-go snacks to help keep hunger at bay. Word to the wise: avoid messy foods.

Good go-to items include fruits and veggies in squeezable pouches, almonds (assuming your child is old enough to have them and doesn’t have a nut allergy), apple slices and cereal bars. When it comes to drinks, be sure to stick with water, which won’t stain if it spills. To be on the safe side, opt for travel cups with secure lids.

I like to keep our snack bag in the front seat during family road trips. Otherwise, the kids will blow through all the goodies before we’re even out of the neighborhood!

In-car entertainment

For most parents, it doesn’t take long before they hear whines of boredom coming from the backseat. Think ahead and be sure to pack things that will help pass the hours.

Consider renting an educational movie that kids can watch along the ride. To prevent fights over who gets to hold the iPad, try mounting it to the back of one of the front seats. Sites like Pinterest are full of creative ways to do this.

When movies lose their appeal, card games and handheld video games can also do the trick. (I prefer ones that teach letter sounds, number sense, etc.) Stuffed animals are another great option. More often than not, the novelty of a new toy is enough to keep kids enthralled. Consider picking up a new cuddle toy that you introduce to your child while on the road.

Extra clothes that are within reach

Let’s face itfamily road trips get messy! It’s only a matter of time before a drink is spilled or a potty-training little one can’t hold it in. Having an extra set of emergency clothes on hand can be a lifesaver.

Just make sure it’s within reach. If your child gets carsick, the last thing you’ll want to do is pull over on a busy highway to dig around in the trunk.

Alternatively, some parents prefer to pack emergency kits for each child that contain things like extra clothes, shoes, underwear and more.

Clean-up supplies

On a similar note, it doesn’t take long for a family car to become a trash pit during a long drive. Keeping the glove box stocked with a few plastic shopping bags is key. During each rest stop, be sure to clean out the mess as you go.

One other thing I would never leave home without is a good supply of baby wipes. Even if your kids are older, wipes are a must! Between food, runny noses and unexpected spills, you’ll thank yourself later for keeping these on hand.

Hand sanitizer is another thing you’ll want in the car. This is especially handy to have when visiting a public rest area or before digging into a drive-thru meal. (Speaking of drive-thrus, bringing along a little basket for each child to sort their meals in the car is genius!)

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5 Fun Summer Activities for Children

Summer Activities | Douglas Cuddle Toys

Temperatures are up, barbeques are out, and beaches are packedin other words, summer is in full swing. It also means that the kiddos are out of school and home all season long. Whether you”re a stay-at-home parent or you work full time, keeping your kids both entertained and stimulated during the summer months can be a daunting task.

Luckily, there are plenty of summertime activities that are fun for both parents and kids. You just have to know where to look. Here”s a breakdown of five ways to help your kids thrive (and have a blast) during summer vacation.

 

Cool off with out-of-the-box water games

Playing poolside or at the beach is often a go-to summertime activity. How about mixing it up a little? Putting a creative twist on water play is a great way to engage little ones (and get them moving at the same time). This can be as simple as putting a hot-weather spin on your favorite outdoor games.

For example, instead of a game of Duck, Duck, Goose, how about Duck, Duck, Splash? Setting up water balloon piñatas or creating a “kiddie car wash” in your yard are other simple, inexpensive ways to cool off and have fun at the same time.

If you”re looking for something with an educational edge, try setting up a big jug of water along with a handful of household items. Then have your kids predict which items will sink and which ones will float. Keeping a tally of the outcomes also reinforces skip counting by fives.

In fact, experts say that water play can help foster math and science comprehension, physical skills, language development, social/emotional skills and more!

Spark their imaginations with a game of dress up

If your kids are falling victim to summer boredom, try taking advantage of an awesome entertainment toolyour closet. Despite popular belief, girls aren”t the only ones who benefit from playing dress up. According to child development experts, dressing up tunes up the imagination of both boys and girls by encouraging role play and social development.

If your child is a nature lover, our Dreamy Dress-Ups are a perfect way to rev up little imaginations. These delicate wings transform kids into instant butterflies. They also go hand in hand with teaching basic science lessons, like the life cycle of a butterfly.

Simply put; old hats, scarves, dresses, ties and accessories can be a treasure trove for little ones engaging in fantasy play.

Explore day camps

When it comes to summer camp, sleep-away options aren”t the only choice. In fact, most towns offer a variety of specialized day campsyou just have to know where to look. Start by checking in with your local beste online casino YMCA and library branches, many of which offer low-cost or free summertime activities for kids.

Everything from science and art camps, to technology and sports programs may be available. Scoping out your nearby recreational sports leagues can also reveal some great, previously unknown options.

For little ones, experts also say that day camps help preschoolers hone school-readiness skills like sharing, taking turns, following group directions and more. (They also give parents a much-needed break!)

Repurpose your toys

If you”re like most families, your kids likely have a crew of cuddly toys and stuffed friends right in their bedroom. Put them to use! A handy trick is to create a sense of novelty by rotating their toys.

Rotating toys actually increases appeal and can get kids excited about a once-forgotten Teddy. This is a much better option than prematurely giving away toys that your child may not be ready to part with. Instead, keep them out of sight and on deck. Periodically switching out toys ups both interest and motivation.

Hit up your local attractions

You don”t have to live near a theme park to take advantage of your town”s local tourist attractions. Contact your local museums and see what summer activities they have going on for kids. (Many offer special events and day programs specifically geared toward children on summer vacation.)

This can include scoping out nearby aquariums, zoos, water parks and more. Another bonus is that many offer discounted rates for residents who purchase a specialty package. Busch Gardens in Tampa, for example, offers an annual pass that comes with unlimited admission, free parking and other perks that make it a worthwhile buy. If you plan on visiting more than once this summer, it”ll ultimately save you money in the long run. Plus, it”s a special treat the kids will love!

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4 Reasons Why Stuffed Animals Are Important for Babies

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It’s no secret that little ones love their cuddly pals. After all, what’s not to love? But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that these imaginary companions play a more vital role in child development than you may think.

They provide much-needed comfort

Perhaps the most obvious function stuffed animals serve is to ease distress and anxiety. (Any parent who’s watched their baby’s tears turn to giggles at the sight of their favorite stuffed animal knows this to be true.) For infants, the world can sometimes feel like an uncertain, scary place. Stuffed toys can help them cope with these emotions because they represent familiarity and reassurance.

This is also important for gradually building your baby’s ability to self-soothe without the help of mom or dad. Big life events, like welcoming a sibling, for instance, can feel less threatening with a favorite stuffed buddy by your child’s side. In fact, Researchers at North Dakota State University say that cuddling a stuffed animal helps young children rely on their own ability to seek comfort. Just how powerful are the comforting powers of stuffed animals? One study found that they can relieve trauma in children exposed to war and terror.

They help develop social skills

When you see an infant loving on their favorite stuffed animal, it may not look like play. However, the truth is that these types of toys help lay the groundwork for fundamental social skills. Experts say that 12 to 18 months is the optimal time to start using toys like stuffed online casino animals and dolls to encourage pretend play. This often includes mimicking the familiar, everyday activities that casino online are part of their regular routines. Pretending to eat or drink from a bottle, for example, is a relatable activity that allows the child to take on the role of caregiver and use their imagination.

Allowing young children to immerse themselves in pretend play with other children is also profoundly important to social development. This online casino can include everything from siblings role-playing with stuffed casino online animals, to your child using their favorite stuffed toy to interact with a playmate at daycare. The point is that engaging in cooperative activities together bolsters social skills.

They foster language development

Engaging in pretend play also serves as a viable way of developing speech and language skills. Nurturing these emerging communication skills is crucial; so why not do it with their favorite stuffed animals? When you help your child act out playful role-playing scenes, talking is a natural part of the process. Think about it: What encourages the best use of language? Playing with blocks, or interacting with dolls? Another perk? Experts say that telling a story by making stuffed animals “talk” to each other is a powerful way of laying the groundwork for reading and writing.

For babies, you only have to rewind this scenario a bit to get the same effect. For example, if your infant is babbling, make their stuffed animals “talk” back to them during natural breaks in the babble. This will help promote conversational turn-taking.

They encourage compassion and empathy

Caring for a stuffed animal is tremendously helpful in nurturing your little one’s natural desire to connect with others. According to one Psychology Today report, children develop an appreciation for relationships with others during pretend play because it requires them to consider other people.

Pretending to care for a stuffed animal or doll also satisfies the need to nurture. The fact that young children tend to identify with stuffed animals may make them an ideal toy to use. Experts say that introducing a novel stuffed toy as a new member to a classroom who needs love and care can bolster both empathy and compassion. This directly translates to little ones at home. Taking care of Teddy forces your child to consider the toy’s “needs.”

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5 Easy DIY Pet Costumes for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching! Are your furry family members ready for the big day? We’re not sure how you feel, but to us there’s not much cuter (or hilarious) than a pet in costume. I mean, if they’ll cooperate with the shenanigans of dressing, staying still for the perfect photo op, why not? The cuteness […]

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Soothing Pain in Children: 4 Reasons Stuffed Animals Help

A stuffed animal is often more than just an inanimate toy made of straw or cotton or bean; it becomes an item that has grave meaning and significance in our lives. The object acts as a companion for security, facilitated by a dependency learned from a young age, accompanying the owner from doctor’s office appointments […]

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Dinosaur Picture

20 Fun Dinosaur Facts for Kids

If you spend much time around young kids, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that a lot of them find dinosaurs absolutely fascinating. If you don’t spend much time around kids, just look at the massive success of The Land Before Time franchise (now on its 13th film, in addition to two sing-along albums, seven video games, and a […]

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