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Thinking Outside the Box: 10 Ingenious Cardboard Forts

By Gen Cohen

Have you ever wondered why we even bother buying our kids toys when all they really want is the cardboard box to build a fort? Grab your kids, and some scissors, and get ready to make some memories with these creative ideas for cardboard forts.

By Meredith Mortensen. Originally shared on parenting.com

Rugged RV

Calling all outdoor aficionados! Forts like this don't roll into town very often. If the recreational life suits you right, this one-of-a-kind RV fort could be in your future. All you need is a box cutter, duct tape, a paintbrush and some paint. Don't forget the license plate!

 

 

Rocket Ship to the Moon

Blast off with this adorable rocket ship fort, complete with turnable knobs and colorful accessories. Kids will love playing inside and peeking out the window as they pretend they're floating in space.

 

 

Fit for the Farm

Grab your cowboy hat and mozy on down to this barn fort. Painted in an authentic red, barn color and accentuated with a rooster on top, this fort is ready for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages.

 

 

Fit for Royalty

No princess could resist this elaborate castle fort. Its delicate climbing ivy and turrets are enough to impress any royal.

 

 

Grocery Shop Till You Drop

Veggies? Check. Cake? Check. Outdoor grocery store fort? Check. Grocery shopping just got a lot more fun with this genius cardboard fort.

 

 

Super Transformation

Give your little one his very own telephone booth to transform from mere mortal to superhero. You'll only need a box cutter, tape, and some paint to "mask" the cardboard box.

 

 

The Incredible Igloo

This intricate, igloo-inspired fort will take a bit more than a coat of paint to construct. The family at the blog Tales of a Monkey, a Bit, and a Bean used templates and a calculator to make it just so. Then they grabbed their blankets and pillows and cozied up inside.

 

 

Pizza Party

What do kids love more than pizza? Creating pizzeria forts! With a little red paint and some checkered curtains, this restaurant will be open for business.

 

 

Slaying Dragons

Ready to slay some dragons and save the princess? Super Mario Bros. fans can delight in this unique fort. Go ahead, give Luigi a call and get building.

 

 

Gigantic Idea

It's going to take some extra cardboard to create this gigantic fort, but the results will be worth it. Even an architect would be impressed with the modern angles of this cardboard fort tower.

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The 48 Best Noncandy Valentine Ideas For Kids

By Gen Cohen

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18 Tips for Traveling with Baby

By Gen Cohen

Have a fun and stress-free vacation with baby by navigating on-the-go naps, time differences and cramped hotel rooms.

By Colleen Lanin via parenting.com

 

Does "vacationing" with your baby sound like an oxymoron? As someone who has ventured on road trips, beach getaways, cruises and more with my two kids, and who is writing a book about family travel—The Travel Mamas' Guide—I know that vacations now are not as easy as they were prebaby. And while there are tons of tips on how to get there, there's not much advice for how to manage once you arrive. A few simple tricks have saved some of my family's trips.

Strategic Unpacking

Just as important as what you pack—and you can check out get-ready checklists here—in my opinion, is how you unpack.

Do it immediately

As soon as you arrive (unless someone in the family is overly cranky or tired), set up your room to make it as close to home as possible. Put the baby in the playpen or hotel crib with a pile of toys and occupy an older kid with a coloring book. Or have your partner take the older sibling out to get the lay of the land while you unpack. Settling in will help you remain organized (and sane) throughout your stay.

Designate a baby-changing station

Bring a box of wipes, lay out a changing pad (I like to put a disposable changing pad on top of a hotel towel) and stack a bunch of diapers in one area. That way, you won't need to chase down the diaper bag when that first big poop occurs.

Create a play space...

Stash toys and books on a low shelf or in a drawer, or keep all the playthings in one corner. Creating a place for your baby to play will make the room feel homey and keep it from looking like a disaster area.

...and a kitchen

Even if your room doesn't have a kitchen or bar area, establish a spot where you'll keep bottles, dishes, baby food, snacks, formula and dish soap. Sometimes the bathroom is best if it has the only sink in the room.

Napping Smarts

Your baby needs her naps, but you don't want to spend your whole vacation watching her snooze. Follow these strategies for squeezing in that daytime sleep:

Start walking

When my daughter, Karissa, was a baby, she wouldn't nap in a strange crib while on vacation. So we planned our days around taking long walks with her napping in a stroller. Some moms advise bringing the lightest, most compact umbrella stroller on vacation to save room, but I always pack a stroller that reclines completely to make stroller slumber easier.

Wear your baby

If your baby doesn't sleep well in a stroller, try a front carrier (like the BabyBjorn) or baby backpack. If you've never used one at home but think it might be convenient on vacation, try it out a few times before you leave. Not all babies will like it, and it might be too hard on your back.

Go for a scenic drive

Try taking leisurely drives to check out the area while your baby naps in the car seat. And on some trips, you can coordinate drive time between destinations with sleep time.

Take turns nap-sitting

If your tot isn't an in-transit sleeper, don't be afraid to schedule naps back in the room. While it's a different vacation rhythm than you're probably used to, an a.m. break and midday siesta can be relaxing for you, too. Just consider your baby's napping style when booking accommodations; if you'll need to return to the room often, a hotel near the beach may be a better bet than a spot farther away, even if it's a bit pricier. If you can, book a room with a balcony or patio so the parent "on duty" can enjoy the outdoors, too.

Easier Bedtimes

One of the most worrisome things about traveling with a baby is getting your tot to sleep in a new place. Here's how to up your odds of at least a few peaceful nights:

Do some trial runs

If you're bringing a portable travel bed, have your baby sleep in it for a few nights before you leave. That way, it will feel like a familiar, comfy spot to go night-night on vacation.

Give it a few days

While it can be tempting to throw in the blankie and drive home in the middle of a sleepless vacation night with an inconsolable baby, I implore you to power through. Eventually, babies will adjust to their new surroundings and schedule, and sleep. If you can survive a couple of nights, I am (almost) willing to promise happy vacation days ahead.

Book the right room(s)

If bedding down in the same room means no one will get any sleep, consider booking a suite or connecting rooms. A suite may offer the convenience of a kitchen area, but connecting rooms may afford more space at a cheaper price.

Stick to the routine

If your baby's bedtime ritual at home includes a bath, lullabies and a bottle, do the same on vacation to make up for the change in location.

Get adjusted

Instead of expecting your infant to shift her internal clock and adjust to a new time zone, shift your day: Stay up later or get up earlier than usual by a few hours.

Meals on Wheels

Sampling local cuisine and splurging on restaurant meals are vacation pleasures I refuse to give up. Dining with babies can be done.

Breakfast in Bed

Because our times to swim, hike, shop or visit an aquarium are limited by morning and afternoon naps, it makes sense for the entire family to eat something quick in the hotel room. So we pack plenty of ready-made breakfast foods like mini-bagels, cereal bars and fruit (bananas, apples).

BYOF

If your baby drinks formula, it helps to pack more than you think you'll need. To save space, empty powdered formula into zipper-lock plastic bags. Or order heavy staples like diapers and formula—even baby shampoo—from a site such as diapers.com or Babiestravellite.com that will ship to your destination (and since you won't have to carry the formula, consider splurging on the ready-to-feed type).

Nurse wherever you feel comfortable

You can breastfeed anywhere you are legally allowed to be.

Bend the rules

To enjoy dinners out, you may have to encourage what you would normally consider bad behavior. I don't let my kids watch TV while eating at home, but we always bring portable DVD players when we eat out. Putting on some Sesame Street for them allows us to actually taste the food we're shelling out big bucks for.

Eat early

Sure, a romantic dinner would normally be at 8 p.m., but by dining out at 5:30, you'll likely have an empty restaurant, room to park your stroller, and a short wait for your food. Alternatively, if your newborn loves to sleep in her car seat, make later reservations and then feed her a bottle or nurse her while you wait for your appetizers. Hopefully, she'll be out for the rest of the meal.

 

Now, go enjoy! Toss out all your old ideas about what a vacation should be and embrace the new craziness that is traveling with a baby. Laugh at the fact that you're at the local playground by 6 a.m. and in bed for the night at 8 p.m. Consider all the gear and baby-lugging as great vacation exercise. And then savor going back home to "regular" life that much more.

Colleen Lanin is the creator of Travelmamas.com.

 

www.roshambobaby.com

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12 Genius Toy-Organization Hacks You're Going to Wish You Thought Of

By Gen Cohen

 

 

As moms, we love a great hack to help make parenting and keeping our houses under control a bit easier. The brilliant mamas at What's Up Moms have done it again with another video full of tips and tricks that are so amazing, you'll wish you thought of them yourself. With that said, get ready to drop what you're doing because after watching this video full of genius toy hacks, you're going to want to organize and clean your children's messy, cluttered playroom immediately.

Watch the video, set something soft on the floor where you expect your jaw will land when it drops, and get into fierce organization mode. Ready, set, go!

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4 Easy Ways to Transition Your Nursery to a Little-Kid Room

By Gen Cohen

This past weekend, we moved my almost 3-year-old son from his crib to a big-boy bed. The transition hasn't exactly been seamless — he's transitioned himself to our bed every night around 2 a.m. — but the design process of transforming his nursery (check it out below) into a room fit for a growing boy (you can see his above): well, that was breezy.

Here's how you can turn your baby's bedroom into a little-kid space easily and affordably.

  1. Think ahead. If possible, design your nursery with the mindset that it won't always be the home of a newborn baby. Try to pick transitional wall colors (Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl is a personal, gender-neutral favorite), furniture pieces that will grow with your child (a sturdy dresser and a book case are my must-have investment pieces), and even artwork that doesn't scream baby. I had a gallery of photographer Sharon Montrose's baby animal prints in my son's nursery. While the collection hanging together seemed a bit baby-ish to me, a single baby zebra still looks great above his big-boy bed.
  2. Work within your nursery color scheme. My son's nursery was pretty neutral, with pops of mustard yellow and a medium grayish blue. When I spotted a camp-themed duvet from Serena & Lily that matched pretty much everything in his nursery, I jumped on it, even though he was years away from a big-boy bed. With that purchase, I guaranteed I could use his existing rug, pillows, blankets, storage baskets, and lamps, saving me tons of money.
  3. Get rid of the glider to make room for a play area. After you've spent years pretty much living in your glider for nursing, cuddling, and bedtime book sessions, it can be hard to imagine life without it. But, now's the time to move it to a different room (mine is currently my favorite reading spot in our master bedroom). With that real-estate now open, you can set up a sweet play space for your little kid, which both encourages independent play and gets some toys out of your living room. Consider adding a fun tent or play canopy to the room (I'm in love with the Land of Nod rocket ship I just purchased for my son), a play kitchen, or a reading nook.
  4. Ditch the crib. Even if your crib transitions to a toddler bed, I'd recommend ripping the Band-Aid off and making the switch to a twin or full-size bed. An official big-boy or -girl bed is an exciting thing for a little kid (my son wouldn't let his sister even sit on his for a week, despite screaming "I hate this bed" the whole two hours his dad was putting it together) and sends a message about their new "non-baby" status, which can be helpful if you're also working on potty training and/or new big-sister or-brother duties.

 

www.roshambobaby.com

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23 Super Bowl Onesies For the Tiniest Football Fan

By Gen Cohen

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Safe Baby Teething Remedies

By Gen Cohen

Not sure how to ease your baby’s teething pain after the recall of Hyland’s Teething Tablets, and FDA warnings about benzocaine in Anbesol Baby and Baby Orajel? Try one of these safe ways to soothe teething (most are med-free!)

By Melanie Monroe Rosen via parenting.com

 

Gum Massage

All you need is a clean finger for this old-fashioned teething remedy. Gentle counter-pressure from Mom or Dad applied to a baby’s sore gums can help ease the pain of teething.

 

Cold Spoon
A spoon chilled in the fridge (not the freezer, or it can stick!) can offer much-needed relief. Just apply the rounded part of the spoon to baby’s gums. Best for before any teeth actually break through to avoid the risk of chipping a tooth.

 

Cold Washcloth
Frozen or merely chilled, a cold wet washcloth (dipped in water, breast milk, or—as some mom’s swear by—chamomile tea) can be comforting for baby to gnaw on.

 

Chilled Foods
If your baby has already started solids, try offering him a cold food like applesauce or yogurt to help soothe gum pain and fill him up.

 

Breastfeeding
Every baby teethes in her own way. While sucking may aggravate teething pain for some babies (sometimes leading to a nursing strike), others may want to nurse more often for the sheer comfort of it. Is your baby using mama’s nipples as a teething toy? Teething does not need to mean the end of breastfeeding; if your baby seems tempted to bite during nursing, try rubbing a clean finger over her gums before beginning and ending the session once she seems full, but not yet bored.

 

Plush Teething Toy
A soft plush toy from an organic brand like Under the Nile is a safe option for baby to chew on when teething is a pain. We love their fruits and veggies line, like these striped bananas, as well as their plush ring toys and “blanket friend” toys because they’re both super soft and machine washable.

Striped Banana from underthenile.com, $7

 

OTC Pain Reliever
Be sure to ask your pediatrician first (especially for early teethers, as doctor’s approval should be given for acetaminophen in babies less than 3 months of age and ibuprofen in babies less than 6 months of age), but some parents find that a dose of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen can work wonders, especially during a tough middle-of-the-night screaming episodes. Make sure to read the product labeling fully, especially in light of changes to the formulation of OTC versions of acetaminophen for infants.

 

Teething Jewelry for Moms

Moms of teething babes know that their little ones will grab just about anything within reach and start chomping. Fortunately, specially designed teething jewelry like Teething Bling from Smart Mom Jewelry is made to be gummed by little mouths. Made from FDA-approved silicone that is free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, latex and lead, it’s non-toxic and dishwasher-safe—and made from the same material as many teething toys, but way prettier hanging around your neck or wrist. Available in a rainbow of colors.

Lapis Lazuli Donut Shaped Pendant from smartmomjewelry.com, $19.10

 

Baby Orajel Naturals
Free of benzocaine, alcohol and dyes, Baby Orajel Naturals is an alternative to the regular version of Baby Orajel, which does contains benzocaine, an ingredient the FDA has recently issued a warning about because of its association with a rare but serious condition called metheminoglobinemia. The active ingredient in Baby Orajel Naturals is eugenol, which is derived from the oil of the clove plant, which is known for its antiseptic, analgesic, antibacterial and local anesthetic properties. (You may have read suggestions for rubbing diluted clove oil on baby’s gums for teething; this takes the guesswork out of the potency for mamas in desperate need of a remedy while baby is shrieking in pain.) Available at major retailers and pharmacies.

Baby Orajel Naturals from drugstore.com, $5.99

 

Camilia
A widely available alternative to teething products containing benzocaine is Camilia, a homeopathic medicine from French company Boiron. Camilia containes homeopathic preparations of German chamomile (for relief of teething pain and irritability), Poke (to soothe painful gums) and Chinese rhubarb (for help with minor digestive disorders, like diarrhea, sometimes associated with teething). Comes in 5 or 20 dose single-use dose packages. Reminder: be sure to check with your pediatrician before administering any OTC teething remedy.

Boiron Camilia from amazon.com, $6.39

 

Wooden Teether
Babies like to gnaw on all kinds of things, especially things that really don’t belong in their mouths. Next time baby reaches for the remote as a snack, hand her a sweet wooden teether, like one from HABA, Camden Rose or this sweet owl teether from Etsy shop Little Alouette. They’re handmade in Ohio from locally sourced hardwoods and are available either unfinished or finished with certified organic flaxseed oil.

Wee Wooden Owl Teething Toy from littlealouette.etsy.com, $15

 

Rubber Teether
Sophie the Giraffe has been helping babies get through teething for more than 50 years. Made of 100% natural rubber (BPA- and phthalate-free) and food paint, this squeaky toy made in the French Alps will likely prove to be one of your babe’s faves. We’re also fans of this Hevea panda teether, made from 100% natural rubber latex (free of BPA, PVC, pthalates and artificial colors; $13.50).

Sophie the Giraffe from jilliansdrawers.com, $21.95

 

Cold Fruit
Chilled fruit, like apple slices or banana, placed inside of a mesh feeder can provide relief (and a tasty snack) for a baby with sore gums.

Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder from amazon.com, $7.69/2 pk

 

Distraction
Sometimes a change of scenery or activity is all it takes to help distract baby from teething pain, at least temporarily. Try running a bath for baby—the warm water may help him to relax—or even just some giving some unexpected cuddle time.

 

Chilled Teether
Placing a solid or liquid-filled teether in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before offering it to baby can amp up its soothing powers. We like this sweet easy-to-grab BPA- and PVC-free apple-shaped teether from Green Sprouts.

Green Sprouts Fruit Teether from jilliansdrawers.com, $3.95

 

Silicone Teether
Another popular option for teething tots is silicone teethers, like those from Born Free or this one from Lifefactory (shown). Dishwasher safe, this teether is BPA-, phthalate-, PVC- and latex-free. It can be stuck in the fridge or freezer, and best of all, worn by mama as a funky little bracelet, so relief is always close at hand. Available in a rainbow of bright colors.

Lifefactory Silicone Teether from jilliansdrawers.com, $6.95

 

Vibrating Teether
This teether from Sassy is not only multi-textured and water-filled (ideal for chilling in the fridge), but it vibrates when baby chomps on the water-filled section, which helps stimulate gums.

Sassy Vibrating Textures Teether from diapers.com, $5.99

 

Hyland’s Teething Gel
Although Hyland’s teething tablets were recently recalled by the FDA, its teething gel is still on store shelves. Hyland’s Teething Gel is a homeopathic teething remedy that contains very small amounts of its active ingredients: Calcarea Phosphorica (a mineral that supports teething), Chamomilla (a botanical that relieves irritability), Coffea Cruda (a botanical that relieves the symptoms of wakefulness and diuresis) and Belladonna (a botanical that relieves gum inflammation and redness). Although the Belladonna plant can be toxic when ingested in large doses, homeopathic Belladonna is safe and non-toxic, due to the miniscule concentration in the gel. Available at major retailers, pharmacies and health food stores nationwide.

Hyland’s Teething Gel from amazon.com, $4.55

 

Sippy Cup
If baby is old enough (around 6 months), try offering a slow flow sippy cup of cool water to suck on for comfort.

And don't forget, our roshambo baby sunglasses are small parts certified teething safe material as well!

 

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