Baby Preparation Checklist

bellypicFor many women, finding out that they have a little one on the way is the best news they could ever imagine receiving. However, once the news has sunk in, a period of panic often sets in, as the parents-to-be start to fret about the many items they will need to purchase ready for the arrival of the baby.

The first thing to remember when you find out you are having a baby is that you have quite a few months left, so there is plenty of time to buy baby items on a gradual basis. In fact, the first thing you will need to buy is not actually for the baby but for the mother, in the form of appropriate clothing. By finding cheap maternity clothes, you can make sure you are comfortable throughout your pregnancy without blowing the money you will need for baby.

Items you will need to save for before the baby arrives

Once you have sorted out your maternity clothing, you can start thinking about the items you need to start saving for in preparation for baby’s arrival. Some new parents get carried away and want to buy everything they can think of before the baby comes, but to start off with, just focus on the essentials. This includes:

A quality pram: You should never cut corners when it comes to buying a pram, as you need one that is safe and sturdy. Prams can be quite expensive, but shop around and try and get a good deal on a quality pram rather than buying a cheap pram that may not be as sturdy as it should be.

A cot: Again, this is something you should put some research into, as you need to go for something that offers quality and comfort for your baby. If you are able to, it is worth waiting until there are sales on to try and save money on this.

A car seat: You need to invest in a sturdy, high quality car seat before your baby is born and get this fitted into your vehicle. This is another item that will need to be of high quality, so make sure you opt for a reputable brand and look at reviews to ensure that it is as sturdy as it should be for your baby.

Clothes: Don’t be tempted to buy your baby a whole new wardrobe of clothes before he or she even comes along – there will be plenty of time for that later on. However, make sure you have some basics ready for when the baby is born.

Feeding formula and bottles: You will need to purchase your formula, bottles and steriliser ready for feeding your baby when you come home from hospital. If you are planning to breastfeed, invest in some comfortable nursing bras.

Toiletries: Make sure you have essential toiletries ready for your baby’s arrival. This includes nappies, skin cream, cotton wool, baby lotion, and baby wipes, amongst other things.

These are some of the essential items you will need to get before your baby comes along. Remember, you may not have to purchase everything from new, as you may have friends or family members who are able to give you hand-me-downs that are still in good condition.

Top 12 Romantic Weekend Getaways for Couples

lovebeach2Summer vacation is almost here for the kids, but sadly, most adults don’t get to enjoy that same luxury. Aside from a weeklong vacation here or there, most of us end up working through the rest of the summer. Still, a long weekend here or there, and even regular weekends as available, can make all the difference in stretching your schedule of fun and relaxation across the entire year. Space out a few weekend getaways that you can enjoy as a couple and let the romance begin.

If your family has access to a beach house or a mountain property or other vacation abode, definitely take advantage as often as you are able. This is likely the most economical way to stretch your vacation dollars. Keep your budget in mind as you consider these top 12 romantic weekend getaways for couples:

The beach

Just about everyone loves the beach! You’ll find so much to see and do, so many great treats to enjoy, fresh seafood, beachy beverages, and more. Set aside some time for miniature golf, ice cream, and a stroll along the boardwalk if you like. Make it a fun and exciting weekend you and your sweetheart will want to do over and over again.

The mountains

Take a more relaxing pace at a mountain retreat, especially if you can set yourself up alongside a sparkling lake. The Adirondacks in upstate New York can be the perfect venue to get away from it all and recharge your batteries. Lay out in a hammock and catch up on your Zzz’s. Or, you can take a more adventurous route and go waterskiing or snow skiing, depending on the season. You can go out on a hike and enjoy a picnic lunch, too. Make the most of your time away!

The desert or a ranch

There’s just something romantic about horseback riding. Get yourselves a cabin at the nearest ranch or find a desert ranch location with horseback riding in the off-season. Arizona has no shortage of romantic horseback riding operations, including the picturesque Sunglow Ranch in Arizona, which may be the perfect romantic getaway idea for sweethearts when the mood strikes. You can also find exciting guest ranch accommodations in Idaho, which is a choice location during the hot season, and plenty of other locations peppered throughout the U.S.

The big city

Many regions are close enough to a big city for a romantic weekend or long weekend getaway. Plan a sweethearts’ escape to New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, or Washington, D.C. Consider planning to see a show, grabbing a bite, and relaxing any way you so choose. Visit a spa for massages, do a little shopping, or simply get out and see the sights. You can also make breakfast plans – another nice element in a romantic weekend away.

A quaint bed and breakfast

Just plain get away from it all by staying at a quaint and cozy bed and breakfast. Choose a location near you and search for BNB’s in the vicinity. You might find a place with nearby hikes or waterfalls, wineries, or other sweet attractions you and your lover can enjoy. Or, you could just hide away for the entire weekend, enjoying each other’s company and a break from the day-to-day rush. Even if you choose the middle of nowhere as your getaway spot, the important thing is the person you bring with you.

The nearest historical landmark

History and culture might not be every couple’s idea of a dream weekend getaway, but a visit to a big museum or other historical site can better ground us in our own lives. It also expands your horizons and gives you conversation matter well beyond the kids’ activities or the monotony of your work life. (And to some, but not all, historical information may be a step up.)

The nearest natural wonder

If you live close enough to Niagara Falls, go. It’s a beautiful and romantic sight to behold and well worth an extended weekend stay. Countless other attractions and activities exist in that general area, but the falls are a must-see. If you’re not close enough for a weekend getaway to the falls, take a look for your nearest natural landmark or wonder. If you can get to the California Redwoods or The Wave at Coyote Buttes in Arizona and Utah, or Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico, these natural attractions will give you photographs and memories of a lifetime.

Graduation Sentiments, Messages, and Congratulatory Remarks for Cards

Graduation messages, comments, thoughts, wishes...

For many college and high school students, graduation is right around the corner. Some students have already processed and tossed their caps high, while others may still be struggling through finals. Whatever the case, this time of year is a very special time for the new graduates as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. For some, it may involve exciting new jobs while others may stress over the scant job market. Some may look to get engaged and marry their sweethearts while others may still look for that special someone, or simply take some time to explore the world themselves.

When it comes time to congratulate the special graduates in your life, a heartfelt graduation message in a greeting card, especially a handwritten graduation note or sentiment, can mean a lot more than the poetic words of Hallmark. Take some time to write a personal message to your favorite graduates this year.

Here are a few ideas and examples to consider as you ponder sentimental graduation messages to share with those you love.

Graduation Messages for a Son or Daughter

Consider these tips on writing a special graduation message to your daughter or son:

– Talk about how you’ve watched your son or daughter grow from a baby or child to a young man or young woman, how you’ve watched their successes and look forward to what the future holds.

– Share sentiments of how proud you are of your child’s achievements and how you are excited for all that is to come.

– Look back on positives from your child’s life so far and express how blessed you are to have him or her in your life. Be sure to say “I love you”!

Congratulatory Sentiments on Graduation for a Grandchild

The graduation of a granddaughter or grandson is a momentous occasion. Share your feelings with a special message for your graduating grandchild.

– Express how special it is for you to see one of your grandchildren walk across the stage to receive a diploma, and how you’ve been cheering them on all along.

– Share sentiments of your love and affection for your grandchild.

– Reminisce about a special memory the two of you share.

– Offer words of encouragement regarding the future and all the wonderful things to come.

Graduation Thoughts and Wishes for a Boyfriend or Girlfriend (or Fiancé / Fiancée)…

 


Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover Review

Puj Spout CoverThe older my daughter gets, the more she loves bath time and playing in the water. Now that she’s been crawling and pulling herself up to stand, we’ve taken extra measures to ensure her safety and to protect her from potential mishaps. Bath time is no different – we have a soft foam spout cover for our bathtub to protect our baby from injury. We received a sample of the Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover free of charge for the purpose of review.

The Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover is made of a soft, durable, high quality EVA foam material that is protective and forgiving. The one we received is a pretty green color and all Puj made of 100% reclaimed material, making this product a nice choice in favor of green living. This spout cover is shaped like an adorable elephant whose trunk hangs down over the spout to protect baby’s delicate head and skin from bumps and scrapes.

The Puj spout cover is very easy to install onto the bathtub’s spigot and it has a hole at the top to allow you to adjust the shower and water settings. The foam is very easy to clean, yet it seems to stay relatively dry and clean on its own. A good wipe and rinse every so often keeps it clean and hygienic.

I did not notice any unusual odors or anything that could be considered a “con.” This spout cover took only seconds to fit over the spout, and I highly recommend it.

You can find this product in a pretty green (Kiwi) or blue color (Aqua), and also in white. The Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover retails for around $9.99 to $15 at Puj.com, Amazon.com, Diapers.com, BabyEarth, AlbeeBaby.com, and Newegg.com, to name a few. For additional information on this and other Puj products, check out www.puj.com.

Why a Pacifier Clip Is Absolutely Necessary for Your Baby

Pacifier Clip ReviewI don’t know why I didn’t register for a pacifier clip when I picked out all those other things for our baby daughter on the way. I guess it probably blended in with the 85 different styles of pacifiers at the baby stores, to the point where I didn’t even realize I was missing it. By the time my daughter hit the seven month mark, I’d lost enough paci’s to see the errors of my ways. I swiftly added a pacifier clip to my online shopping cart and life has certainly been a little easier ever since.

I think sometimes a pacifier clip can be one of those things you don’t realize you are missing until you have one. Similar to, how did we ever life without cell phones? Now that we have them, we seem to feel naked if we leave the house without ours or if we misplace it. The pacifier clip I bought offers so much convenience to my life now. I almost can’t understand how I survived without it.

I have personally lost pacifiers at the supermarket and countless other places, sometimes having to buy them on the spot or being reduced to my daughter’s “least favorite” paci’s while waiting for the new ones to come in the mail.

I’ve also lost them in the car while driving, and either had to pull over or listen to a screaming baby all the way to where I was going. Or if my husband was driving, I’ve climbed into the back seat to retrieve a tossed paci.

Pacifier clips come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, making it fun to choose a special one for your little one. You can pick a design you like (I chose pink cupcakes ), or simply get a colorful one you think the baby will enjoy.

Now that my daughter is into the fun throwing and tossing stages, she often throws things out of her car seat or stroller without me even knowing. Can’t tell you how many times this has happened at a drugstore, supermarket, or other location. And, to be honest, some places are just too gross to pick up the paci and reuse it, even if you do sterilize it. At least as far as I’m concerned…

So there you have it, from my own personal experiences, the reasons why I believe a pacifier clip is truly a necessary baby accessory. If you still aren’t convinced, you can get a pacifier clip for $5 to $7 on Amazon with free shipping and that easily saves you the cost of replacing just two pacifiers. And, my friends, if you think your baby isn’t going to lose just two pacifiers, please invite me to your dream world, because I could sure use a vacation like that. J

Tips to Enhance Your Jogging Stroller Workout

jogging-stroller

Running can be challenging enough on its own, but add in a 50-pound jogging stroller and an unpredictable infant and you could be in for quite an experience! Jogging strollers can be a true boon in helping you get back to pre-pregnancy size and weight, but don’t dive in head first. You should know a few things about working out with a baby jogger, and you’ll find it definitely gets easier over time.

Before my daughter was even born, I bought myself a BOB Revolution SE since I love to run, I’m a former high school and college cross country athlete, and I’ve been itching to do a couple of 5k races each year. Plus, I wanted to hasten my journey to getting back in shape after baby. I picked out the BOB jogging stroller for its awesome reviews and the rugged construction. I also liked that I could get it in orange, my husband’s favorite color and one of mine, and I loved that it seemed like a good fit for our needs. The basket underneath is plenty big enough for my phone, keys, water bottle, and numerous things for the baby. I also feel the hood provides ample shade and protection from the elements, a little drizzle here and some serious sun there.

bob-revolution-seStill, when I first took the jogger out a couple of months after having my daughter, I think I surprised myself with how challenging it was on the first use. My upper body really felt it, plus, it was weird running without my arms. I’ve noticed a few things in the nine months or so since then, which seem to help my jogging stroller runs along a little better. Not only that, but the better I do with the jogger, the better my times and runs are without it. I’ve even taken my dog along for 3-mile jaunts with the jogging stroller around my neighborhood. It takes more coordination than I usually feel comes naturally, but she enjoys it and the baby does, too, so it’s worth it to me. Of course, I have a very well-behaved dog. I wouldn’t recommend running with a jogging stroller and just any dog. You’ve got to remember all the squirrels and other dogs out there, causing enough distraction to derail your whole operation!

So, without further ado, here are my favorite tips for running with the jogging stroller:

· Plan your runs around your baby’s schedule. Ensure she’s fed and changed and comfortable. You’ll get more running time before she gets fussy in most cases.

· If your baby will sleep in the jogger, you can also time your runs a little before naptime so she gets to enjoy the fresh air, but also doesn’t interrupt your run when she’s ready for bed.

· Keep some of your baby’s favorite snacks and a few toys in the basket below in case you need a distraction.

  • Take advantage of a pacifier clip to ensure your little one doesn’t lose the paci (nuk, binky, pacifier, etc.). These things are well worth their weight in gold!

· If your baby starts to get really fussy and you aren’t on a loop that allows you to turn back early, try singing one of his or her favorite songs. It is challenging to run and sing, especially on mile 3.5 of a 4-mile run, but it’s worked for me on several occasions.

· Even though you can’t use your arms as you would without a jogging stroller, you can still alternate arms as you jog around your neighborhood or favorite trail. Hold the stroller’s handle with one arm and pump the other a few times, then switch. I noticed my friend and personal trainer Jessica Rapp of Unique Physique for Life doing this when we went running together as she gave me a break from the stroller. I tried it a few times later and noticed an immediate and unmistakable improvement in my overall time and my mile pace.

As always, ensure your infant is properly dressed for the weather and that you’ve applied sunscreen to keep his or her skin safe. Avoid crossing busy intersections or running along highways and other busy roads. You can never be too careful, especially with the rate of people texting while driving despite common sense.

Remember to always put your child’s safety first, above and beyond all else. As your little one grows, he or she may enjoy your runs more and more, and you may even find that your son or daughter wants to run with you after outgrowing the stroller!

 

A Look at the Acase Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker by Yantouch

Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker Product Review

Sometimes you just don’t know what to get someone for Christmas, birthday, or any other special occasion. Some people are just too difficult to shop for, no matter what the occasion. Thankfully, every once in a while, a special gift item comes out on the market, making it so much easier to check those people off your shopping list. I found Acase’s Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker by Yantouch to be the perfect item to fit the bill.

I originally purchased one of these for my brother’s Christmas present when I first learned of these cool music gadgets that interact with your smartphone. More recently, I received one of my own from the company to test and check out for the purpose of this review. The Bluetooth speaker actually lights up with ambient lighting or pulses to the beat of the music—totally too cool to let it pass you by. The Black Diamond III comes with a small remote controller that fits sleekly into a tiny opening in the back of the speaker. Use this remote to change the music, volume, and light settings.

The BlackDiamond 3 (BD3) by Yantouch, introduced by Acase, sparkles and shines just like its namesake, and creates the ideal mood for any setting and any mood you choose. Play some pulsating music like Schism by TOOL and enjoy the “music you can see” as the speaker syncs with the tempo, or play something more melodic and easy going like David Gray’s Sail Away for a relaxing light show of the flowing style of music.

The speaker is shaped like a diamond; its base is black and the upper half is angled and faceted with bright LED lighting inside. The construction is sturdy yet sleek, and this item looks and feels of great quality. The bottom of the speaker features two clear left/right 3Wx2 stereo speakers as well as a resonant bass tube. Visually, the speaker is capable of displaying up to 16,000,000 colors according to product documentation (Are our eyes even capable of seeing this many shades?? Wow!).

BD3 also features a buiGifts for dads and grads, ambient lighting bluetooth speakerlt-in equalizer for improving audio response and the ability to choose multi-color special effects, like Rainbow, Aurora, or Purple. We tested our Android smartphones and found the speaker very convenient to pair with our devices. (The Bluetooth is auto-pairing and auto-linking and works without the need for a password.) YouTube, Pandora, and even cell phone conversations transmit easily and quickly over the Bluetooth speaker. (So be sure you aren’t paired if you hope to have a private conversation!) As a totally separate perk, it’s a very cool feature to try if you want to do a family conference call when many members are in the same location as the speaker.

Compatible with all Bluetooth devices, the BD3 speaker worked wonderfully with my HTC Sensation as well as my husband’s Samsung Galaxy S3. This device is outfitted with an AC adapter and a USB power cord and audio cable (combined), and though I’ve not tried it, I’ve heard that you can daisy chain the speaker so that it has even more power! Maybe not a widely known feature, but definitely worth noting!

As for the vibrant lighting show, our baby daughter loves it. She enjoys watching the colors switch through blends of millions of hues in the flowing mode as well as from one color to the next or in line with the tempo of the songs. We’ve begun using the Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker by Yantouch to help teach her the colors as well. By turning off the lights, the LED colors become even more vibrant and attractive, making it fun for the whole family. This item would be a great addition to any home for ambient lighting and music mood setting, but also as an attractive accent in a place of business such as a fitness studio.

The Acase Yantouch Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker would be the perfect gift for dads and grads this season, especially for those who never want anything special and the ones who already seem to have everything. The speaker’s MSRP is $120. You can get the speaker at http://www.apluscase.com.tw or on Amazon.com for just $99 – I paid $120 for the one I got for my brother around Christmas, so don’t miss this great deal !

Incrediwear Diabetic Socks, Incredisocks PRO-3 sport socks, and Incredi-Femme Socks Review

Incrediwear Socks ReviewWhether for warmth and comfort or function, socks come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. You can find great socks for working out and truly comfortable socks for lounging around. Some socks have a medical purpose or benefit while others are purely for fashion or to keep your feet warm inside your shoes. Incrediwear offers a wide variety of socks ranging from cozy and supportive diabetic socks to top performance athletic socks and everything in between.

I received three pairs of Incredi-socks to check out for the purpose of this review – athletic socks, diabetic socks, and fashion boot socks. Each pair of socks had its own benefits. I especially love the Incredisocks PRO-3 thin sport socks, as I am a runner and also spend some time working out doing strength training and other exercises. The Incrediwear athletic socks felt great on my feet from the moment I put them on. I noticed they immediately fit to my foot as if I had no socks on at all, a great feature that makes you feel lighter on your toes and ready to work out! I also noticed they did a great job with moisture-wicking properties, keeping my feet dry during my workouts. I am going to have to invest in some new athletic socks after trying these – it will be hard to go back to old cotton socks! (Even if they are Adidas.)

The Incredisocks PRO-3 thin athletic socks work hard to increase circulation, regulate body temperature, and wick away moisture. They feature ANOIN technology, which essentially means that negatively charged atoms absorbed by the body help to increase circulation and “molecular vibration.” Basically, these socks are made of a unique blend of bamboo carbonized charcoal, allowing them to set free some therapeutic anions while increasing the blood flow and speed up to 17%, according to studies.

In my humble opinion, these socks are a fabulous addition to any workout wardrobe! Product literature also reveals that Incredisocks can also reduce swelling, speed up recovery time, decrease fatigue, and improve range of motion, among other benefits.

Diabetic socks offer special support and protection for diabetes patients’ feet, but they also bring a nice list of other benefits. The Incredisocks Diabetic Crew sock is helpful in regulating temperature and encouraging greater blood flow to the desired area. These diabetic socks are superb at compression and they have a nice texture that is comfortable to the skin.

These socks are nice and long, offering great compression for the feet through the ankles and partially up the leg. The marbled appearance of the socks themselves is pleasant. The socks have just the right amount of give to stretch and conform to the foot, ankle, and leg.

I received one pair of the diabetic socks in a grayish green hue with a tan stripe and one pair of Incredisocks PRO-3 thin sport socks, as well as one pair of Incredi-Femme socks in knee-high length. These charcoal colored socks stretch comfortably to fit the entire leg up to the knee. They are warm and the fabric is ultra soft and comfortable. These are my new go-to boot socks! I also love them for a comfortable sock under jeans or work slacks, which means they can be worn just about any time.

The Incredi-Femme women’s dress socks are also designed so that your feet don’t sweat, smell, swell, or get tired. The close fit of the socks recalls feelings of being cuddled up nice and snug, but the cut and style keep ‘sexy’ in the picture. The weave of the sock is also quite lovely, not to mention tightly knit so that the socks feel like one cohesive piece of fabric. They look a tad bare just around the ankle, but that might just be my pale winter whiteness showing through. These socks are feminine, fashionable, and admittedly, my first pair of socks this tall. I love them! It just goes to show that you don’t know what you don’t know – I might have gone my whole life never enjoying the benefits of knee socks were it not for Incredi-Femme socks. I might just have to increase my collection.

The Incredi-Femme socks retail for between $13.50 and $20, while diabetic socks come in at $24.95 and below-ankle style athletic socks at $13.50. You can learn more about Incredisocks and Incrediwear products at www.incrediwear.com.

First Birthday Party Ideas for Little Boys and Girls

Baby Birthday Party Ideas - Turning One

A baby’s first year flies by so quickly, bringing tons of memories and exciting things to share with family and friends. Before you know it, your little one is 10 months old and her birthday is just 8 short weeks away. Planning a first birthday party can be a lot of fun if you approach it the right way. Saving it all to the last minute can be stressful, so get started in planning your little one’s party ahead of time!

To give yourself a head start, bookmark the websites featuring the themes you want to consider for your little one’s party and start a Pinterest board for your kiddo’s first birthday well in advance. This makes it easy to collect ideas you find as well as those shared by other people.

Some first birthday parties can be Consider these fun and memorable first birthday party ideas for your little one’s big bash:

1. Rubber Ducky Birthday

2. Under the Sea Birthday

3. Wild Animal Birthday (Zebra, Cheetah, etc.)

4. Sesame Street (or Character) Birthday

5. ABC Party

6. Mickey & Minnie Mouse Party

7. Puppy Party

8. Circus Party

9. Princess Party

10. Colorful Party Theme – Red, Blue, and Yellow or All Bright Colors

You can also customize the party if your child shows a particular interest in a character, animal, or toy. You can have a racecar or truck party, a monkey party, or tropical party. Something else unique about the first birthday – if you don’t have a theme in mind for your child based on his or her favorites so far, you can always pick out a theme that you like. So bring on the Hawaiian luau or the Angry Birds party! Happy First Birthday to your little loves!

Feel free to share other ideas in our comments below.

Top 10 Places to Take Your Kids during Their Childhood

Top 10 places to take your kids during their childhood

Time keeps rushing by, no matter what we try to do to slow it down. Suddenly our infants become toddlers and then our little girls and little boys become teenagers. Where does the time go? Sometimes we need to take a breath, and even more importantly, a break from the craziness of the whirlwind called life. Even if it’s only once a month or once every couple of months, families can have a lot of fun by planning a special outing together. Consider these top 10 places to take your kids during their childhood so you can show them the world and make some great family memories.

These activities should be suitable for kids of varying ages, and in most cases, should be enjoyable for both boys and girls. You might even find your children’s cousins or friends might enjoy these same activities and venues, so consider planning group outings as appropriate.

Here are our top 10 places to take your kids as they’re growing up:

1. The Beach – Sand and sea should be a part of every kid’s childhood.

2. The Mountains – Get the best of both worlds by vacationing for a few days on a lake in a mountainous region.

3. An Amusement Park (Or Disney World or a similar vacation if you can afford it!) Kids love this stuff!

4. A Museum – It is important to teach our youths about where we’ve come from as a society, related to culture, history, and more.

5. A Carnival or Fair – These memories live on longer than you might expect – choose one with rides, games, and great carnival snacks like funnel cake.

6. The Circus – The attractions at the circus can even amaze adults! Don’t forget your camera.

7. A Charitable Event – We should all teach our children to be thankful for what we have, and compassionate towards others who may be dealing with more challenges in life.

8. Camping – Outdoorsy fun can be great for the whole family. Make sure you plan enough time to go on a hike, fishing, and to cook over the campfire!

9. A Surprise Party for a Grandparent – These kinds of memories can help shape children’s futures and how they treat others, often by showing extra love and appreciation even when it isn’t always commanded or expected. Also, it’s a great opportunity to make even more memories with all the generations in your family.

10. A Family Reunion – Keep those family bonds strong and don’t get into the habit of seeing those in your extended family only at weddings and funerals. Let the kids enjoy playing with all their cousins, second cousins, and getting to know their aunts, uncles, and everyone else.

Remember, not all the things that you do as a family have to be costly. You can make some of the best memories of all doing things that are very affordable or free. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather a nice sample of things that are social, playful, active, and educational. Please share your own favorite places to take your kids in our comments below!

Top 7 Things to Do with Your Baby during the First Year

Ask any parent and they’ll probably tell you that the first year flies by in a flash and you’re celebrating first birthdays in no time. We all mean to stop and smell the roses during that first year, but sometimes it goes by so fast we don’t even realize just how fast until that first year is almost gone. Sometimes a checklist or “To Do” list can be a great way to keep track of important things you want to do with your infant son or daughter before the first birthday arrives.

To help you ensure you capture some of those special moments or take advantage of some fun activities, we’ve compiled this list of things to do during your baby’s first year of life. Feel free to print this out, add this to your Pinterest page, or bookmark it for future use.

1. Take a picture every month with cute onesie stickers.

2. Make keepsake handprint and footprint artwork. They’ll only be this small for so long!

3. Get a photo with Santa Clause at the very least, and maybe with the Easter Bunny, too, if you like.

4. Get a family portrait done or be sure to take family photos around the holidays when everyone is dressed up.

5. Take a few videos of your little one doing something cute. You should also have your video camera or smartphone handy to shoot videos of first time crawling, first steps, laughter, singing, first words, and other important moments.

6. Write down the dates or rough estimates of when your baby met important milestones like laughing, smiling, crawling, sitting unsupported, and of course, first word, and first steps!

7. Make special time to visit grandparents and especially great grandparents. Capture as many generations as you can in a single photo. (And take lots of photos in general!)

These ideas are just some of the sentimental things you should do for memories and good times with your little one. Make sure you do all the day-to-day things as well, like singing, teaching ABC’s and 123’s, visiting friends for play dates, and playing together, among countless other important moments.

Do you have other special things to do in a baby’s first year of life? If so, please share your suggestions in our comments below!

Easter Egg Hunts for Toddlers and Older Babies

baby easter egg huntEaster brings a bunch of fun traditions for little ones, from dyeing eggs to pictures with the Easter bunny, decorating the home with bunnies and baskets, and of course, the annual Easter egg hunt. Even toddlers can participate in an Easter egg hunt, as long as the eggs and prizes are sized appropriately. My daughter is going to be just about 11 months when Easter arrives this year, so I am planning to do a little Easter egg hunt for her. She’s an older baby and I really think she will enjoy crawling around and opening up the eggs if she can figure it out!

Easter egg hunts for toddlers and older babies may be a bit different than your average plastic egg hunt for kids of any age. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan a fun Easter egg hunt for your baby or toddler.

· Be vigilant about choking hazards and include only appropriate prizes in the plastic eggs.

Baby and Toddler Easter Egg Hunt· Still keep a close watch on your baby or toddler, even if you think the prizes are safe.

· Look for jumbo eggs that are way bigger than standard plastic eggs. You can fit much bigger prizes inside these eggs!

· Think about small (but not too small) prizes that you can pop into the eggs to entertain your little one.

· Remember that less is more. At this age, your older infant or toddler will likely be amused and delighted to play this fun egg hunt game with all the bright colors and surprises, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if he or she loses interest before you do.

· Hide the eggs in obvious places where your baby or tot can crawl over and easily get a hold of the plastic egg.

· If your child doesn’t pick up on the purpose of the game right away, help him by opening p one of the plastic Easter eggs to reveal a fun prize! Play with the prize or offer it to your little one to get him excited.

· Even if you don’t have the greatest prizes for your baby, you can still have a lot of fun introducing her to an Easter egg hunt. Make it a fun game, spinning the eggs, dropping them a short distance, or letting them roll down your arm.

· Consider fun and age-appropriate “prizes” inside the eggs, like Puffs (baby cereal pieces), cute animal finger puppets, or little bath toys, for starters. These are my current prizes of choice for our daughter’s first Easter.

In all the excitement of your son’s or daughter’s first Easter egg hunt as a toddler or older infant, don’t forget to snap a few pictures! Have fun playing together and get some good shots of your little sweetie picking up the plastic eggs. (And be sure to send a copy of your favorite photo to all the grandparents or aunts and uncles who couldn’t be there to celebrate with you!)

© Danieldupuis | © Aberenyi | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images, respectively