Author Archives: Christine Knight

eloise-flight

Tips for Traveling With Toddlers

The last time I travelled with my child, she was a baby who could easily be contained and managed. I recently took her to New Orleans for a few days and discovered exactly how different it is to travel with a toddler than a baby.

Here are my tips for enjoying surviving your next trip with a toddler:

What to pack
Pack at least one outfit a day, and then add spares. Your child will inevitably go through more pairs of pants than you think. Hotel rooms are often overly air conditioned, so bring warm pyjamas regardless of the season. Consider taking the car seat – it’s a royal pain to take through security, but taking it with you means you can easily grab taxis to and from the airports, which can save you a lot of money on hired cars.

Security
This is usually one of the biggest stresses of travel for us. Being prepared makes it less painful. The stroller needs to be folded and passed along the screening belt. The car seat needs to be removed from its cover to be manually inspected. Your child’s shoes can remain on, but yours must come off.

You can take a water bottle and milk bottle (both containing liquid) into the flight (just remember to show them to security).

Your child will not be allowed to carry anything through security, so take away their toys or lovies (even pacis) in advance to prevent the meltdown that happens when Dolly is ripped away and send into the black hole that is the security scanner.

Squeezy pouches are permitted onboard – just seal them in a large ziplock pouch, and only take aboard what you need, plus a few spares. Security gets suspicious of large quantities (sorry I can’t tell you the exact amount that puts you in this category!).

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The flight
What works best for us is taking a flight close to nap time. Often we can’t choose the time, but when we have choices, we like to pick a flight that is an hour or two after her usual nap. This usually ensures that she crashes pretty quickly and sleeps most of the flight, while my husband and I get to relax somewhat. She will either sleep on us, or in her own seat if we’re lucky (we did get lucky on this trip and she fell asleep in her own seat on take off! Score!). A lot of people swear by evening flights. Because our toddler is up at the crack of dawn, we prefer day flights where possible, so we can get to the hotel and then to bed at a reasonable time.

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This trip we also packed a lot of things to entertain her, once the novelty of being on an airplane wore off.  I bought a few new toys, books and stickers, and packed crayons and a small coloring book for the flight. These, combined with a few videos we’d downloaded to the iPad, entertained our toddler for the rest of the flight when she was not napping.

Snacks are another must. Bring plenty of whatever your toddler’s fave foods are, and ask the stewardess for extra pretzels or cookies. Flight crews are also happy to fill a milk bottle if you bring an empty one aboard.

Be prepared for tight, cramped, smelly spaces in the airplane bathroom when it comes time for a diaper change. Besides grinning and bearing it, there is little you can do to get around this unpleasant aspect of flying with a toddler, save for bringing a changing pad and lots of disinfecting wipes. Yuck.

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The hotel
Ahead of time, request the necessities. A crib! A high chair (if they don’t have them, consider taking a clip-on high chair with you if your toddler is still using one). Think of the sleeping arrangements when booking your room. Where will your toddler sleep? Do you need a room with a separate living area, walk in closet (that can fit a crib) or extra bathroom in which your child can sleep (Don’t judge, but we have good friends who put their toddler to sleep in the extra bathroom in their room.)?

At the hotel, child-proof everything before your toddler gets into the mini bar and grabs the mini vodka bottles with glee. The easiest way is to move everything to a higher shelf. This includes anything in the room at toddler-reaching height. Pens, phones, lights – move everything so your child can’t hurt themselves, or anything expensive in the room.

If your child still drinks milk in the morning, try to buy a carton of milk from a nearby grocery so that you don’t have to order room service every morning just to fill a bottle (unnecessarily expensive plus the wait is just too long).

If you plan on going out at night, find out in advance if your hotel uses a reputable babysitting service and if so, contact the service to help find a babysitter that you feel comfortable with. If they do not have a service, websites like sittercity.com are great, and do background checks on all of their sitters. Call a few sitters, ask for references, and the like. I like to ask the sitter to come a little earlier on the first night so that we can meet her and get a general “not creepy” vibe.

Deadlock the front door every time you enter the room if your child, like ours, is a Houdini who enjoys escaping and also, locking the whole family out when you go into the hallway to chase her.

It may or may not be necessary to child proof power outlets, depending on your child’s age. Depending on your child’s sleeping habits, you may need to bring a night light. We have this Hippo night light, which can go into the crib. Simply remove the bulb from the belly and charge it in a wall during the day.

The hotel staff
Make nice with the staff when you arrive. As a general rule, just look apologetic and act grateful, as your toddler is sure to ruin something while you are staying at the hotel. Ask the concierge to recommend kid-friendly activities in the local area, and also potential restaurants where your little one will be welcome. And if you make yourself known, they will likely dig up a special treat or two (crayons, a special coloring book) for the kiddo.

Take lots of photos and enjoy your trip!

By Christine Knight

brunchChristine Knight is co-founder of Brunchwithmybaby.com, a site featuring kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore in New York City. Catch up with the Brunch With My Baby team on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest. Follow Christine on TwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Roundup: The Best Toys for Kids Turning Two

Like every family home, we have a lot of toys strewn about. Our almost-two-year-old, of course, only plays with a handful of her vast toy collection. Some of her current favourites were given as gifts over a year ago, and are only now becoming an engaging toy for her to play with.

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Thinking of getting a gift for a two-year-old? Try one of the trusty favourites that’s a hit with our toddler.

stroller

Stroller: Ours was sent from an overseas relative, but the brand isn’t important. All of the mini strollers are equally great, and you can even get them in blue.

megabloks

Megabloks: These are awesome first builders for toddlers. The Big Building Bag includes a car-type platform for building on and zooming all over the floor. The blocks are the perfect size for toddler hands to manipulate.

kitchen

Hape Kitchen: We have a tiny apartment, so found the smallest kitchen possible, this neutral-toned kitchen from Hape. We filled it with similar-looking Hape Play KitchenwareOur toddler loves to make us “tea” in her kitchen, and “stir” up delicious dishes to share with this cute wooden kitchen set.

scooter

Mini Micro Kickboard Scooter: This is our toddler’s early second birthday gift. We chose the Mini Micro version with the additional O-bar handlebar for toddlers. She’s slowly learning to use it around the house.

chair

Hoohobbers Jnr Director Chair: After making it clear that she wanted her own chair, we scouted around for something that didn’t take up too much room. The result is this great director’s chair that our toddler can fold up herself, and move around the room to wherever she wants to sit. You can even customize it with your child’s name.

Crocodile Creek Ball: Our toddler is now starting to kick and throw the ball.

Cars: We found a great, cheap car set from IKEA that our toddler loves to pull apart and drive all over the apartment.

Maracas: These maracas from Pylones are still a favourite and our toddler loves to “shake, shake, shake” her sillies out.

B. Rrrroll Model Boogie Bus: A gift for her first birthday, our toddler now loves to push the driver in his seat to start the bus engine, and arranges the passengers in the back.

Alphaberry: Your toddler won’t prefer this to your iPhone, but it is engaging and fun, playing the ABC song and saying all of the letters when they’re pressed.

Diddy-Doo-Dah’s Blue Owl Xylophone: The xylophone hammers are now used for actually playing music! We all enjoy this toy together, playing tunes for our toddler and singing simple songs.

Tupperware Shape O Ball: While her puzzle skills are definitely still developing, this toy is helping our toddler recognize shapes. She struggles to work out how to rotate the pieces and doesn’t recognize all the shapes and where they go, but she is drawn to this shape sorter and loves to keep trying to work it out.

By Christine Knight

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Christine Knight is co-founder of Brunchwithmybaby.com, a site featuring kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore in New York City. Catch up with the Brunch With My Baby team on Twitter, Facebook,and Pinterest. Follow Christine on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

 

 

 

Where to Eat, Play and Shop in Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights is well-known for its quiet little blocks full of beautiful brownstones and carriage houses, nestled under leafy trees. With its picturesque location, right on the waterfront, Brooklyn Heights has long been a desirable neighbourhood to live in, as well as a popular destination for tourists who end up on Montague Street after a scenic walk along the promenade.

This historic neighbourhood is also a quiet haven for families, so it’s no wonder that Brooklyn Heights is loaded with kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore.

ample hills

Where to eat
Feel like a light snack, or breakfast or lunch? Check out Le Pain Quotidien (121 Montague street), one of the most kid-friendly restaurants you’ll ever find. They do great iced teas, croissants, fruit tarts and quiches. For a special occasion or fancy brunch, wake up early to score a table (and an expertly-mixed cocktails) at Colonie (127 Atlantic Ave). In hot weather, grab a gelato at Peas n’ Pickles or a homemade scoop (or two!) of ice-cream from Ample Hills, which recently opened a concession stand at Pier 5. For an early dinner and glass of wine, head over to Dellaroccos (214 Hicks St) for some delicious wood-fired pizza.

sandbox

Where to play
Brooklyn Heights families are lucky to have two amazing, spanking-new playgrounds for kids of all ages to enjoy. Check out Pier 6 for a dizzying variety of specialised play areas: Swing Valley (recently re-opened after being severely damaged during last year’s hurricane), Slide Mountain (where you can zoom down some heart-stopping slides), The Water Lab (it’s a zoo in summer, so when possible, go on weekdays while kids are still in school) and Sandbox Village. Pier 5 is brand-brand-new, and features a toddler playground, a bigger kid’s play area, plus a huge soccer field and barbecue area. Another playground worth visiting is the recently dedicated Adam Yauch Park (Atlantic Ave, Columbia Pl, State St). It’s named for the famous Beastie Boy, who grew up in the neighbourhood playing in this playground.

heights kids

Where to shop
Check out Heights Kids (93 Pineapple Walk), a favourite with locals for its wide range of everything kids might need, from toys and teething rings to clothes and car seats. Other boutique kids stores worth check out are Junior Lowe (89 Atlantic Ave), a kids clothing with the tagline “for little Brooklyn hipsters”, and Nest Egg Kids (109 Atlantic Ave), a cozy little kids toy store that focus on handmade toys of good quality and style. Check out the flower shop next door to Nest Egg Kids, Floral Heights and see if your name is on the blackboard that day – if it is, you get a free flower!

By Christine Knight

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Christine Knight is co-founder of Brunchwithmybaby.com, a site featuring kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore in New York City. Catch up with the Brunch With My Baby team on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Follow Christine on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.