It's only a matter of time before your little walker wants some wheels of his own. While we're still a few years off from handing them the keys to the car (and thank goodness for that!), there is no shortage of options when it comes to giving tots their first set of wheels. Check out the newest, and coolest, rides around for playground-bound kids, from three-wheel scooters even the youngest toddlers can power on their own to balance bikes that will help them avoid using training wheels.
When the sun's shining and the temperature's rising, kids can't wait to get outdoors. And when there are new toys to be played with, outdoor playtime can't come soon enough. We've checked out the hottest new toys of the season and have narrowed down our favorites to keep kids busy all Summer long. Check them out!
Your child's imagination will soar while playing in one of these adorable outdoor playhouses! No plastic here — these unique minicasas are all handcrafted from wood. From crooked rooflines to modern design, these houses entice youngsters outdoors for hours of creative play. Along with making memories, wooden playhouses encourage kids of all ages to enjoy the wonders of make-believe!
With two cold-weather babies, I've always envied moms who could plan an outdoor birthday party and take advantage of their backyard or local park. Nature makes the great outdoors ideal for garden parties, water games, messy projects, and sporting events — and best of all, they can be done at a fraction of the price of indoor ones without rental fees. Check out 23 fun parties you can throw right in the yard, without ever worrying about how you'll fit all those kids in your home!
All seesaws are not created equal. The up and down motion of a traditional teeter-totter has provided generations of tots with hours of fun (and sore bums when their seats come crashing down), but the classic toy is getting a much needed upgrade.
Consider the Spiro Bouncer ($72), the pimped-out version of your favorite playground toy. With cushioned seats and a bouncy ball attached to the bottom of the seats, lil ones' bottoms never have to fear hard landings when their playmates push off just a drop stronger than expected. Rather, they simply bounce right back up. Add to that the ability to spin while playing and your tyke will never look at the old-fashioned seesaw the same way again. Of course, this playtime fun does come at a price — the Spiro Bouncer costs almost twice as much as its counterparts. So tell us — what do you think?
Warm weather's not just an opportunity to shed your jacket, but to get the kids up, moving, and outside. While the sun may be all it takes to get mama outdoors, tots often need a little enticement — that's where the toys come into play. We've checked out the hottest new toys of the season and have narrowed down our favorites that will have lil ones begging to enjoy the fresh air. Check them out!
Is it beginning to feel a lot like Spring where you live? If so, chances are, you and your kids are ready to cure your cabin fever and get outside this weekend.
- Encourage Budding Entrepreneurs: Little ones love to feel in control, and giving them their own business opportunity for the day is a great way to teach basic math, social, and even marketing skills. Start a classic lemonade stand, or on a chilly afternoon, try hot chocolate instead. If they're kitchen-savvy, cupcakes or muffins will add an extra "production" element to the plan, and are likely to solicit lots of compliments from the neighbors!
- Head Out on a High-Tech Treasure Hunt: Heard of geocaching? The hot, new treasure-hunting trend is a great way for families to embark upon an adventure together. All you need is a GPS device (GPS-enabled mobile phones count), and to sign up for a free membership on geocaching.com. Identify your coordinates on the website, and your GPS will guide you toward your treasure — more than 1 million geocaches are hidden around the world! Even supermodel Cindy Crawford is a fan, as she recently posted about the activity on her Facebook page.
- Play Tourist in Your Own Town: Traveling tends out to bring the planner in all of us, but on a typical weekend at home, more often than not, we're guilty of getting stuck in the same old routine. Take advantage of a beautiful day by discovering something new. Whether it requires simply walking out your front door or driving 30 minutes, make sure that everyone in the family learns something from your mini adventure that they didn't know before.
- Plan a Picnic: Get the most out of an old-fashioned picnic by including kids in the planning process. Let them help decide on a menu – be it breakfast/brunch food, sandwiches, a healthy snack, or a sweet treat — and pack their own backpacks with games and toys.
- Bundle Up and Head to the Beach: It may not quite be bathing-suit season, but kids still love the excitement of going to the beach. If you're lucky enough to live within driving distance, make sure everyone's bundled up and go for a family walk by the sea. If it's windy out, bring a kite — Spring days are often ideal for high-flying fun.
- Photo Safari: Encourage your little shutterbugs to get snapping by creating a list of "photo missions," and accompanying them on a photo safari. Include things you're apt to see around your neighborhood — a red door, a mom with a double stroller, a white dog . . . get creative!
Now you're scootin! During a recent visit to camp, I couldn't help but notice the lineup of scooters parked just inside the main entrance. There must have been 20, and aside from a few that were marked with kids' names, it was virtually impossible to tell them apart. There's no question that tots love scooters as a fun alternative to walking or biking, and they're a great way to encourage exercise. Before parking your lil one's ride in a sea of Micros, Razors, and Kickboards, check out these fun accessories to make their scooter their own.
Source: Flickr User Ed Yourdon
Violet's about to get her head in the clouds! Jennifer Garner was spotted out running errands over the holiday weekend, where her big purchase was none other than a trusty pogo stick! The classic toy, which had its heyday in the roaring '20s, is making a comeback this Summer with several popular manufacturers producing updated versions of the bouncing stick. Take a look at five of my favorite pogo sticks, including the one mama Garner purchased for her 5-year-old tot (just be sure to buy a safety helmet along with the stick, before giving it to your lil bouncer)!
Slather on the lotion! If you thought the breast vs. bottle debate was polarizing, wait until you talk to fellow playground moms about sunscreen. Though lotions and sticks protect lil ones' skin from cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays, doctors advise new mamas to use physical barriers — SPF clothing, umbrellas, and shades — rather than lotions on babies younger than 6 months old.
Once tots reach the six-month mark, keep them protected from the sun without harming them in other ways. The Environmental Working Group recently released its recommendations for the best sunscreens for tots — seeking out products that do not contain potential hormone disruptors. The group recommends staying away from spray-on lotions and powders, as well as those containing oxybenzone or vitamin A. Tops on their list are sunscreens using zinc or titanium for the best UVA protection without the use of such harmful chemicals. Click through to see six of their top picks (which can all be found without much effort at your local drugstore).