Monster Mash: Local Halloween Parties For Toddlers

Hi everyone!

For moms, having a toddler at Halloween is the best. You get to dress them however you want, get home early, and eat their candy! There's lots of spooky Halloween activities for kids, but they tend to be too scary, candy-focussed, or grown-up for the littlest ghosts and goblins. That doesn't meant they can't get in on the fun. There's still plenty of toddler-centric Halloween events if you know where to look. We've scoured the corners of the Westchester Web to find all the best places to take your kids for Halloween fun.

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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21

Cross County Mall's Halloween Spooktacular
Yonkers, 10am & 1pm
Free! RSVP required for either 10am or 1pm. Call 914-968-9571, Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm only to RSVP. When you RSVP please let us know if you are attending the morning or afternoon event. The Halloween Spooktacular includes the following activities:
-Trick-or-Treating throughout the mall
-Halloween Arts & Crafts, near Forever 21
-Fortune Teller with palm readings, near Hyatt Place Hotel
-Strolling entertainers around the center
-Story Time, near Michael Kors
-Inflatable Kid's Maze, near Gap
-Coloring Station, near Victoria's Secret
-Selfies with Binx the Inflatable Cat, near NY&CO.

Lasdon Park Halloween Train Show
2610 Amawalk Road, Somers, 11:00am-4:00pm
Dozens of toy trains chugging through a miniature world, an enchanted castle with a magical fairy garden, a “live” friendly dinosaur and much more will be featured in 10th annual Halloween Train Show, beginning Saturday, Sept. 30 and continuing weekends through October at Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Museum. Food will be available from Fork in the Road Café food truck, which will have a full menu for lunch or early dinner. The Garden Shop will offer fall mums, pumpkins, gifts, food and refreshments. The entrance fees are $5 per child and $10 per adult.

A day of Halloween fun
The Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library, 1 Haseco Avenue, Portchester
11:30am: Singalongs with Chloe: babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will have fun singing songs, and playing with instruments and bubbles. 
2:30pm: The Remarkable Renaldo: children ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive circus, magic and juggling show. We encourage children to come in costume, and parents to bring cameras to take pictures of them with Halloween characters.

Ridge Hill's HarvestFest
Fountain Plaza, Market Street at Cole & Fitzgerald Streets, Yonkers
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm | Kids trick-or-treat 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Discover fun for the whole family at Ridge Hill's 5th annual HarvestFest, including pony rides, arts & crafts and much more! Enjoy live bluegrass music and square dancing with the Foot & Fiddle Dance Company and celebrate autumn’s arrival with seasonal fare, drinks and kids activities. Plus, Kids are invited to get their fill of candies, treats and more at treat-stops located throughout the center (costume-friendly!). More HarvestFest information: http://bit.ly/2wJSFZE

Spooktoberfest
Hart's Brook Park and Reserve, Hartsdale, 12:00pm-4:30pm
Larger Than Life DJ: 12:00-4:30, Confetti Clowns: 12:45-1:15, Greetings from Anywhere (Americana Stomp ‘n’ Twang-Live Music): 1:00-3:00, Jester Jim: 1:45-2:30, Bubble Bus: 1:00-3:00, The Captain Charlini (magic): 2:45-3:30, Ned Gelfars, the Comedy Juggler 3:30-4:15
All Day: Inflatable Slide & Obstacle Course, Halloween Crafts & Games, Halloween Trail Hay Ride, Transformation Face Painting, Greenburgh Nature Center, Petting Zoo & Cider Press, Scarsdale Children’s Hair Salon, Food Vendors. $6 per person (children under 2 free) All parking/tickets for this event: Ridge Road Park Ridge Rd., Hartsdale. Rain or shine.

Larchmont Ragamuffin Parade
Village of Larchmont, 12:30 pm
Line up begins at 12:30 PM on the corner of Larchmont & Palmer Avenues and will start at 1:00 PM Sharp. Rain date: October 28.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22

Spooktacular 2017
Stephen E Johnston Beach & Pavilion, 1 Harbor Island Park, Mamaroneck, NY
10:30am - 4:00pm
Ghosts and goblins will be all around our Village as we celebrate Halloween in this Spooktacular! Starting with a holiday tradition, window decorating at 10:30AM, continuing with a costume parade, assembling at Mamaroneck and Halstead Aves. and marching to Harbor Island where the fun continues! Ride the hayride to the Haunted House. Enjoy craft activities at the Kid's Korner, Sunny the Clown and musical performances by the School of Rock Mamaroneck House Band and so much more!

Lasdon Park Halloween Train Show
2610 Amawalk Road, Somers, 11:00am-4:00pm
Dozens of toy trains chugging through a miniature world, an enchanted castle with a magical fairy garden, a “live” friendly dinosaur and much more will be featured in 10th annual Halloween Train Show, beginning Saturday, Sept. 30 and continuing weekends through October at Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Museum. Food will be available from Fork in the Road Café food truck, which will have a full menu for lunch or early dinner. The Garden Shop will offer fall mums, pumpkins, gifts, food and refreshments. The entrance fees are $5 per child and $10 per adult.

Chappaqua Ragamuffin Parade
Chappaqua Train Station, Carnival at 12pm, Parade at 3:30pm
Rides, food, and music at this children's parade.

Bronxville Children's Fall Festival
Leonard Morange Square, 12:00pm-4:00pm
Activities for kids including safety day, pony rides, games, inflatables, live music, a free martial arts class, food, and more! Provisions for Pets will also be holding a pet adoption event from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM.

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26

Halloween Craft
Bronxville Public Library, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Themed craft projects for children ages 3 & up.

Halloween Fun with Wickity Stitch & Tibbits
Crestwood Public Library, Yonkers NY
4:00pm-5:00pm
Come join the fun and chocolate loving witch and cat duo Wickity Stitch and Tibbits as we celebrate Halloween with the reading of "Wickity Stitch's Sweet Halloween" followed by crafts, snacks and more! Ages 0-12

Spooky Halloween Maze
Rye Free Reading Room, 6:00pm-7:00pm
The Library's Meeting Room will be transformed into a spooky good time for the whole family. Wear your costume and walk the haunted maze if you dare! Those brave enough to complete the walk will find a halloween goodie bag at the end of their journey. Maze will be available from Thursday to Saturday. Goodie bags available only on Thursday. Family Event. Ages 4 & up.

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27

Spooky Halloween Maze
Rye Free Reading Room, 10:00am-11:30am & 3:00pm-5:00pm
The Library's Meeting Room will be transformed into a spooky good time for the whole family. Wear your costume and walk the haunted maze if you dare! Those brave enough to complete the walk will find a halloween goodie bag at the end of their journey. Maze will be available from Thursday to Saturday. Goodie bags available only on Thursday. Family Event. Ages 4 & up.

Great Play Halloween Party
Scarsdale, NY, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Please join us for our annual Halloween Party! For children, ages 1 to 5, and their parents or caretakers. We'll start with a Halloween Costume Parade followed by some of Great Play's most loved games and activities--all with a Halloween twist! We'll even trick or treat for a few trinkets and end the afternoon with a Halloween treat! All children must be accompanied by a parent/caretaker. Children friendly costumes are welcomed but not required. We will serve a Halloween cupcake or apple. Contact us about any dietary restrictions. The party will not be scary or spooky. Members $25/Siblings $20, Non-members $30/Siblings $25 

My Gym Halloween Party
Larchmont, 2:00pm-5:00pm
0yrs to 10yrs. Halloween Party is Here! No Registration Needed!

Halloween Story & Craft
Riverfront Library Room 2B, Yonkers, NY
4:00pm-4:45pm
Halloween is just a few days away! Get ready to celebrate with a story and craft about the spookiest holiday of the year. Ages 3-8.

Halloween Fun
Chappaqua Public Library, 4:00pm-5:00pm
Stories, songs and trick-or-treating in our Library. Costumes welcome! (not required...) Ages 4-6

 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28

Merchant's Urchins Parade and Halloween Festival
New Street, New Roc City, 9:45am
Don't miss New Rochelle's Children's Halloween Costume parade (Merchant's Urchins Parade) and Halloween festival. Line up for the annual parade at 9:45 a.m. at New Street, New Roc City (in front of Regal Cinema). Parade begins at 10 a.m. and ends at the New Rochelle Grand Market (Library Green in front of the downtown public library). Pumpkin painting, crafts, treats and face painting to follow! (In the event of inclement weather, the market will remain open. The parade will be canceled and pumpkin painting will take place in the library's meeting room.)

Lasdon Park Halloween Train Show
2610 Amawalk Road, Somers, 11:00am-4:00pm
Dozens of toy trains chugging through a miniature world, an enchanted castle with a magical fairy garden, a “live” friendly dinosaur and much more will be featured in 10th annual Halloween Train Show, beginning Saturday, Sept. 30 and continuing weekends through October at Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Museum. Food will be available from Fork in the Road Café food truck, which will have a full menu for lunch or early dinner. The Garden Shop will offer fall mums, pumpkins, gifts, food and refreshments. The entrance fees are $5 per child and $10 per adult.

Smallcakes First Annual Halloween Party
Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery, Scarsdale, 12:00pm-4:00pm
Raffles, Costume Contest, Free Samples, and more. Face painting and Balloon making by FunFaces by Brenda. Live music by DJ BAPHLD.

Halloween Celebration & Village Halloween Parade
Ardsley Public Library, 1:00pm
Join us  in costume to decorate a Halloween treat bag. Then join the Village Halloween Parade that will leave from the library parking lot at 2pm. All ages welcome.

Drop-in Halloween Craft
Ardsley Public Library, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Stop by the children's room to create a spooky craft for Halloween. Ages 3+ . No registration required. 

Trunk or Treat
A.F. Veteran Park, Ardsley, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Park your car, set up your site, bring your costumed kids and then pass out your treats to kids as they come by. How much candy/treats should I bring? Enough for about 50 cars. Larger Than Life DJ and clowns will provide Halloween Music and entertainment. Trunk Decorating Contest! 3 Winners will be chosen for the best decorated cars. Have fun and get creative. Pre-Registration is required. Sign up online or in our registration office. Only $5/car for residents, $10 non-residents.

Spooky Halloween Maze
Rye Free Reading Room, 2:00pm-4:30pm
The Library's Meeting Room will be transformed into a spooky good time for the whole family. Wear your costume and walk the haunted maze if you dare! Those brave enough to complete the walk will find a halloween goodie bag at the end of their journey. Maze will be available from Thursday to Saturday. Goodie bags available only on Thursday. Family Event. Ages 4 & up.

Apple Moms Trunk Or Treat at the Jefferson Valley Mall
Yorktown Heights, 3:00pm-5:00pm
Apple Moms Trunk or Treat will be taking place at the Jefferson Valley Mall. Last year almost 500 kids attend the Trunk or Treat in Brewster, so we decided to bring one to Westchester. There will be a prize for best costume and best car! If you are a family or business interested in participating please message or email Apple Moms at applemomshv@gmail.com.

Dobbs Ferry Haunted House
The Dobbs Ferry Woman’s Club, 54 Clinton Avenue, 4pm-8:30pm
The Dobbs Ferry Woman’s Club and Dobbs Ferry PTSA invites the public to attend its annual haunting event that includes participation in ghost stories acted out in the rooms of a Victorian house, an activity room for children, and refreshments for participants. Admission: $5, $3 for children ages 9 and under. Ages 4 and under are free.

Nyack Halloween Parade
Memorial Park, Piermont Avenue, NY, 5:00pm-8:00pm
Nyack's Halloween parade is the second largest parade behind New York City. You can find floats, marching bands, a roller derby, live entertainment etc. The parade starts at Memorial Park and proceeds along Main Street and Broadway. Line up along the route for a view.

Monster Mash at Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Stepping Stones Museum, Norwalk, CT, 5:00pm-8:30pm
Join us for a BOO-tiful night of TRICKS and treats jam-packed with family fun. Featuring live animals from Animal Embassy. Our Monster Mash promises to be SPOOK-tacular. Food will be available for purchase in the cafe. Our visitors LOVE when Animal Embassy comes for a visit because children get an up close look at exotic creatures in a safe and welcoming environment. Come meet their animals at this year's Monster Mash! Space is limited so register early online.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29

Lasdon Park Halloween Train Show
2610 Amawalk Road, Somers, 11:00am-4:00pm
Dozens of toy trains chugging through a miniature world, an enchanted castle with a magical fairy garden, a “live” friendly dinosaur and much more will be featured in 10th annual Halloween Train Show, beginning Saturday, Sept. 30 and continuing weekends through October at Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Museum. Food will be available from Fork in the Road Café food truck, which will have a full menu for lunch or early dinner. The Garden Shop will offer fall mums, pumpkins, gifts, food and refreshments. The entrance fees are $5 per child and $10 per adult.

Halloween Party with Wolves
Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem
Two times: 11:00am-12:30pm and 2:00pm-3:30pm
Trick or treat! Join ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, Nikai and Zephyr for the WCC’s Halloween Party! Our Ambassador wolves don’t do tricks but sharing a howl is always a treat. Holiday appropriate goodies will be offered to our guests and our wolves! Guests will also visit critically endangered red wolves and Mexican gray wolves too. Costumes are strongly encouraged! Pre-registration is required. Pre-registration is required. $14 Adults,  11 Children under 12

Boo Walk
Muscoot Farm, Katonah, 1:00pm-3:00pm
This is a non-scary, kid-friendly, Halloween-themed scavenger hunt! Please come in costume and explore our wooded trail decorated for the fall season! Free admission.
Visitors can arrive any time between 1:00 and 3:00.

Halloween Party with Clowns, Inc.
Will Library Auditorium, Yonkers, NY
2:00pm-4:00pm
Join us for games, face painting, and magic fun! No registration. Ages 0-12.

Eastchester Ragamuffin Parade
Eastchester Middle School, 2:00pm
Join us for a fun-filled walk from Eastchester Middle School to Town Hall where you will enjoy snacks provided by the Eastchester Little League. The parade is open to all pre-schoolers through 6th graders. Once at Town Hall join us for a spooktacular dance party. A DJ will play Halloween favorites and dance songs for all to enjoy. All participants will receive a goody bag.

Irvington Halloween Parade
Immaculate Conception Church parking lot, Irvington, 3:00pm
Parade will begin at Immaculate Conception Church and end at Main Street School. Music and treat bags provided courtesy of “The Irvington Fire Company.”

Dobbs Ferry Haunted House
The Dobbs Ferry Woman’s Club, 54 Clinton Avenue, 4pm-8:30pm
The Dobbs Ferry Woman’s Club and Dobbs Ferry PTSA invites the public to attend its annual haunting event that includes participation in ghost stories acted out in the rooms of a Victorian house, an activity room for children, and refreshments for participants. Admission: $5, $3 for children ages 9 and under. Ages 4 and under are free.

 

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MONDAY, OCTOBER 30

Great Play Halloween Party
Scarsdale, NY, 1:30pm-3:00pm
Please join us for our annual Halloween Party! For children, ages 1 to 5, and their parents or caretakers. We'll start with a Halloween Costume Parade followed by some of Great Play's most loved games and activities--all with a Halloween twist! We'll even trick or treat for a few trinkets and end the afternoon with a Halloween treat! All children must be accompanied by a parent/caretaker. Children friendly costumes are welcomed but not required. We will serve a Halloween cupcake or apple. Contact us about any dietary restrictions. The party will not be scary or spooky. Members $25/Siblings $20, Non-members $30/Siblings $25

Halloween Parade and Haunted House
Bronxville High School, 4:00pm
The Bronxville Youth Council will be hosting its annual Halloween Parade and Haunted House. The parade will start from the High School Flagpole. The Haunted House is immediately following in the Multi Purpose Room in the Elementary School.

Halloween Party for Babies & Toddlers
Sprout Wellness, Pleasantville, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Sing-along with Joannas 'n Bananas, yummy treats, Halloween crafts, and monster photo booth. Admission cost is suggested donation.

Halloween "Boo" Bounce & Scavenger Hunt
Bounce U, Elmsford, 5:00pm-6:56pm
A holiday special open bounce is near. Kids are encouraged to show off their favorite Halloween costume. Enjoy 1hr in the bounce stadiums for bouncing and Halloween scavenger Hunt, followed by 45 minutes in the party room for a Halloween themed games, craft activity & snack. Reservations required, space is limited. Only $18.95 per child. Parents are FREE.

 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31

Trick or Treat at the Warner Library
Warner Library, Tarrytown, 10am-6pm
Come in costume and haunt the library by visiting each desk to get a sweet treat! All ages welcome!

Halloween Puppet Playtime with Miss Nicola
Scarsdale Public Library, 10:30am
An interactive, story based puppet show. Ages 3 to 5. No registration required. 

Preschool Halloween Party and Parade
Larchmont Public Library, 11:00am
Calling all ghosts and ghouls!  Come to the library to show off your costume, enjoy some Halloween stories and snacks, and trick or treat around the library. Ages 3 and up. Online registration required

Trick-or-Treat at the library!
Bronxville Public Library, 1:00pm - 8:00pm
Stop by the library in costume & receive a special treat!

Lil Chameleon Monster Mash
Lil Chameleon, Tuckahoe, 3:30pm-5:00pm
Calling all monsters! Join us for treats and games! Wear your favorite costume. RSVP by October 30 at rsvp@lilchameleon.com.

Ghoulie Gala
First Five, Armonk, 3:00pm-5:00pm
Halloween at First Five! Come in costume for trick or treat art projects and adventures. .$25 per child

Halloween storytime
Scarsdale Public Library, 4:00pm
Come in costume to savor some stories before you trick or treat! Ages 3 to 6.

Kids Halloween Costume Party
Riverfront Library Community Room A & B, Yonkers, NY
4:00pm-5:30pm
Children are invited to dress up and enjoy Halloween at the Riverfront Library with a Scary Movie and snacks! Ages 0-12. 

Bedford Halloween Parade
Bedford Presbyterian Church, 4:00pm
Parade lineup starts at the Bedford Presbyterian Church and ends at the Bedford Elementary School where donuts and cider will be provided.

Ghosts and Goblins on Parade
Will Library Story Room, Yonkers, NY
4:30pm-5:00pm
Come in costume for Halloween stories and a parade around the library for ages 4 & up. No registration necessary.

Know of an event that's not on my list? Leave a comment below, on Facebook, or on Instagram. And as always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea



Spotlight: Lil Chameleon, your new playdate, class, and shopping spot in Tuckahoe

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It’s here! And just in time for the cooler weather. Lil Chameleon is a kids resale store, a mommy-and-me lounge, and your new venue for all kinds of kid (and some kidfree) classes. We recently visited and were super-impressed by how much there is to do in a space that feels open, friendly, and relaxing.

Interested in a free trial class? Register online to sample some of the classes offered from October 10–19. Click here to view classes and register.

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You can go to the larger kids-consignment shops and find lots of clothes. But they can also get overwhelming really quickly, and there’s…just…so…much…STUFF! Lil Chameleon is more of a resale boutique where the collection is curated so you know you’re getting high-quality, adorable items in great condition. You won’t find a “10 onesies for $1” bin here but you will find tons of cute clothes you can’t wait to put them in for under $10.

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They’ve got toys and accessories too. We went in and saw loads of gently worn Halloween costumes for less than full-price. Come in to shop or to sell your own stuff. They offer competitive sell/trade deals for your best used kids items. And we couldn’t help but gush over the rack of new bows, headbands, and watches.

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Our favorite spot is the kid-friendly self-service café and lounge. Selling both healthy and indulgent snacks for parents and kids, it’s a great spot to take a break and the perfect solution to the problem of where to have those cold or rainy day play dates. On our recent visit my crawler had a blast exploring the toy corner while I relaxed on the couch. It’s like the living room you always wanted: stocked, cozy, and perfect for a mom meetup.

In fact, BabyGotChat is hosting a (free!) mom get together Tuesday, October 17 at 11am. Join us to meet other moms and relax while your kids play together.

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Come for the award-winning Baked By Susan treats and other snacks, playtime, and shopping, stay for the classes. Classes are launching soon for all ages. And these aren’t your typical mommy-and-me classes. Lil Chameleon classes range from subjects such as “Spanish Through Music”, “Fertility & Pre-Natal Yoga”, “Toddler & Me Yoga”, to “Make Your Own Gourd Instrument”, “Expectant & New Moms Circle and Stretch” and more.

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If it sounds like the space you’ve always wished for, you’re not alone. Lil Chameleon owner CC Benitez moved out of the city at five months’ pregnant and quickly realized she needed a place to meet like-minded mommy friends. When she couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for, she decided to create it herself. She says, “We help mom with life’s lil things. We are style-wise, quality-conscious, earth-considerate, family-centric and community-minded.”

We hope to see you on Tuesday the 17th for our 11am get-together, and don’t forget to register online for free class demos from October 10-19.

And as always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea



What's the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze really like?

Hi everyone! 

Watch below to see the results of our Mabel's Labels giveaway. Congratulations to our lucky winner!

And don't forget to enter our newest giveaway from MAM. One winner will receive a $50 gift package of assorted items including their new Perfect Pacifiers, bottles, teethers, drinking cups, oral care items, and an ergoPouch ergoCocoon swaddle to sleep bag. To enter, send an email to info@babygotchat.com with your full name and hometown. Then follow babygotchat and mam_usa on Instagram to be eligible. I'll be collecting entries until October 8.

It's officially Fall! Halloween is right around the corner, but Halloween is tricky with toddlers. You want to indulge in the spirit of the holiday, but you don't really want them to eat tons of candy or expose them to morbid and/or scary stuff. What's an enthusiastic parent to do? 

PUMPKINS!

Yes, for parents of toddlers Halloween is all about pumpkins. Picking them, drawing on them, perhaps even carving them. And one of the best pumpkin-themed activities in our area is the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. Buzz for this event starts early, as tickets go on sale the day after Labor Day, and peak times quickly sell out. Lots of parents worry that it will be too cold, too dark, too late at night, too much walking, too crowded, or worst of all, too scary! We've been a few times with young ones in tow, and we have the lowdown (photos and deets) on what to expect.

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GREAT JACK O'LANTERN BLAZE: INFANT & TODDLER EDITION

When To Go

The Blaze runs from late September to after Thanksgiving, though it's at its most exciting before Halloween, of course. When you have small kids, you'll want to find the perfect time of day and time of year. You'll want to go before it gets too cold, but you want it to be late enough in the year that you can go at the first time slot and it's dark enough to enjoy. We like to go toward the end of October when it's not yet freezing (Halloween can sometimes be short-sleeves weather!), but it's close enough to Daylight Savings Time that it will be dark at the first time slot of 6:30. If you aren't planning to Trick Or Treat, the Blaze is open on Halloween and it's one of the few nights that don't get sold out quickly. 

What About Bedtime?

If you're going with small kids, make peace with the fact that they'll be up past their bedtime. You can make it easy on yourself by dressing them in pajamas or bringing them in the car to change into before they go back in their car seats. If missing bedtime is a dealbreaker, make reservations in late November for the 5pm first showing.

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Potties and Diaper Changes

There are only porta-potties available, so bring hand sanitizer and plan for all diaper changes in the car.

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How Long Will It Take? And What About Crowds?

It takes a little less than an hour to walk through, 30 minutes if you want to hurry and an hour if you take in every...last...detail. The Blaze is very linear. It's a long walk from one part of the property to another and then back. Because of this, it mostly doesn't feel crowded because you are continuously moving with your family and friends, and you always have a great view of the pumpkin exhibits, which are set up on either side of the walking path. That said, there are a few bottlenecks that can get crowded and slow down. There's one part in particular where the path narrows and becomes a bit of a traffic jam, and a second part where the path opens up to Van Cortlandt Manor where there is stuff in all directions, so people tend to linger there and it gets more congested. It's very one-directional--once you start walking through, you won't be able to backtrack easily, so don't rush by exhibits thinking you'll go around twice. Go slowly and enjoy it all as you see it the first time. 

Can I Bring a Stroller? Can My Kid Walk? 

If you can comfortably wear your child for the hour, that's the best bet. If not, a jogging stroller or one with great wheels will help you navigate the uneven dirt paths. But we've brought a shopping-cart-wheeled travel base before and got through just fine, so it's up to you. Unless your kid can walk for an hour without tiring, isn't intimated by the dark and strangers, and can be trusted not to walk away from you or go into the pumpkin exhibits, strapped in a stroller or on your back is the best bet. The higher up they are, the better the view for them anyway.

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Is It Scary?

While some parts are spooky, this event is not scary. There are no ghastly, horrific, or deathly exhibits. There are a few setups like skeletons, scarecrows, and giants spiders that might freak out the most timid of attendees, but the medium of brightly colored and lit carved pumpkins takes most of the creepiness out of the subject matter. Most of the builds are just plain cool. A tunnel you can walk through, a replica of the Tappan Zee Bridge, a circus train, dinosaur statues. It's more like a cool museum than a haunted house. There are no surprises, nothing jumps out and the music is not scary.

Are All Those Pumpkins Real??

In short: no. Many of them are reusable pumpkin replicas, but each pumpkin, real or fake, is carved by hand, so admire the workmanship more than the materials. That said, more than 10,000 live pumpkins are carved for the Blaze, but they aren't all set out at one time because the older pumpkins need to be replaced with fresh ones as the show goes on. When you walk through you'll be viewing more than 7,000 real and fake pumpkins on site. Because of that, the Blaze is somewhat similar from year to year, but there's always something new, so people love to come back again and again to see what's changed and what's new for this Halloween.

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Is There Stuff To Eat/Drink/Buy?

When you first walk in there's a gift shop area with lots of fun Halloween-themed books, toys, and home decor as well as official Blaze souvenirs and light-up trinkets for the walk. You'll probably get sucked into buying a little something for the kiddo. We recommend not buying the toy pictured above, unless you like being annoyed for hours on end. There's a Cafe Blaze serving snacks and beverages. It's not the kind of event you walk around with a beer, though.

What's The Verdict?

For us, it's a must-see at least once. You can go when the kids are any age, but the sweet spot is before age 1-2 (when they'll enjoy the lights and colors, but it's more for you) or past 4-5 years old (when they can handle the late bedtime combined with hyperstimulation and the limited control of a crowded space and not tantrum.) Keep in mind all tickets are rain or shine (though if it's truly a monsoon, they'll issue a refund). Parking is free and right outside the event, especially if you come for one of the earliest time slots.

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That's it for this week! I hope this answered all your questions. Let me know if you have any others. 

And don't forget to enter our giveaway for $50 MAM gift package of assorted items including their new Perfect Pacifiers, bottles, teethers, drinking cups, oral care items, and an ergoPouch ergoCocoon swaddle to sleep bag. To enter, send an email to info@babygotchat.com with your full name and hometown. Then follow babygotchat and mam_usa on Instagram to be eligible. I'll be collecting entries until October 8.

And as always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea



 

 

Be The Common Sense Mom: 10 Safety Mistakes Parents Make

Hi everyone!

We’ve all been there: scrolling down our news feed on TwInstaBook and we see someone repost an article with a title like “Brokenhearted Mom Warns Others Not to Make This One Mistake” followed by an article highlighting the dangers of something fundamental we learned while we were pregnant but may have let slide after the baby was born. Then (if we can bear to keep reading) we hear some awful story about a kid who fell victim to this danger. Since it’s National Baby Safety Month, I’ve created a refresher course on the most common safety issues little ones face that were all inspired by terrible warning posts that came up in my feed. Make sure you're not guilty of any of these easy-to-make parenting safety gaffes. I personally swear by these tips, but I'm not a professional safety expert, so be sure to talk to your pediatrician before changing your routine to make sure they are on board with our suggestions.

But first, to celebrate Baby Safety Month, the folks at MAM are giving away a $50 gift package of assorted items including their new Perfect Pacifiers, bottles, teethers, drinking cups, oral care items, and an ergoPouch ergoCocoon swaddle to sleep bag. To enter, send an email to info@babygotchat.com with your full name and hometown. Then follow babygotchat and mam_usa on Instagram to be eligible. I'll be collecting entries until October 8.

 

THE COMMON SENSE MOM CHECKLIST

 

COMMON SENSE TIP #1: Babies can’t fall off the floor

This is a really good tip to remember when you need to put Junior down for two seconds and the bed, couch, or changing table look really appealing. Even if you really don’t think they are going to move, even if you’ve never seen them roll, keep in mind the sight of Mommy walking away can motivate babies to Herculean efforts to follow her. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in children ages 0 to 19. About 8,000 children a day in the US visit the emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Sure, the floor can be cold, hard, gross, etc., but even banging the back of their head on the kitchen tile is nowhere near as bad is if they took a dive from higher up. The same goes for putting the car seat, Bumbo, or booster seat on a table or countertop.

 

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COMMON SENSE TIP #2: The carseat chest clip should be high and tight

Car seat safety is our pet passion at BabyGotChat. It’s so important for your kids to be strapped securely into their car seats every time anyone takes them out. Sure, it’s tiring go through all the steps several times a day, but you are their only hope to ride safely, and their bones and joints can’t handle impact the way we can. They need their 5-point harness to be positioned correctly, all the time. See the photo below for tips to get a great fit.

And make sure anyone who straps them in passes the test. Don’t be afraid to offend--your child’s safety is more important than ego. Don't forget to remind grandparents and caretakers that big winter coats come off in the car. They take up so much room in the car seat, but squish under force, so the straps become too loose in an accident. It’s also a good idea to bring your car seat on the airplane when you fly. In addition to being tremendously more safe, it makes your flight easier because it keeps them strapped in a place that is comfortable, clean and familiar.

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And speaking of riding safely, if you need to pull over to check on the kids (because they are crying, because they dropped their toy and are freaking out, because they made a noise they never made before and your mind is going to scary places) please PLEASE pull over somewhere safe before you get out of the car. Not the side of the highway, not on a 2-lane road with no shoulder, not on an on-ramp. I've seen so many cars lately pulled over dangerously close to fast-moving, unpredictable traffic. It's worth the extra thirty seconds to get to someplace safe and well-lit to park your car and check on them. 

 

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COMMOM SENSE TIP #3: Babyproof nursery cribs and windows

There are two dangers that are consistent in every baby's room: the crib and the window. Here's how to make sure both are safe:

Ditch the crib blankets
They look so still when they sleep, but kids can toss and turn as much as we do. They don’t have the muscle strength to wiggle free of a blanket as it becomes wrapped around them. Save them the task by keeping the crib free and clear. Worried about them being cold? Invest in some fleece zip-up onesies and they’ll be fine. Or in light weather, MAM suggests the ErgoPouch.

Watch out for nursery chemicals
Ensure that your baby’s crib meets CPSC standards and that everything in your nursery is free of harmful chemicals and toxins. I've heard rumors that off gasses of unsafe crib mattresses could play a part in SIDS. I'm not sure, but there are organic mattresses you can buy, and it's a good idea to set up your mattress prior to baby using it so it can air out for a month or two. MAM recommends that you check that the crib of your choice is not on the CPSC recall list.

Back is best
MAM wants to remind us that babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs. Placing babies to sleep on their sides is just as dangerous as placing babies to sleep on their stomachs, since they are likely to roll over on to their stomachs while sleeping. A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that about 2 in 10 babies are placed to sleep in incorrect positions that greatly increase the risk of SIDS. Consider pacifier usage when placing baby down for sleep and remember that the pacifier may not be reinserted once baby falls asleep. Pacifier use is shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. MAM supports the AAP published guidelines for pacifier usage. Check them out here.

Keep the crib in a safe spot
Just as important is ensuring that your baby’s crib is placed away from windows, where drafts and sunlight can put your baby at risk; as well as drapes/blinds, which are strangulation hazards. Home Depot sells cordless blackout shades that are easy to install. Do yourself a favor and replace all the corded blinds in your house. In addition to being safer, it beats having to wind the cords around those babyproofing cord mounts each day and unravel them each night.

 

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Use window gates
I know you're thinking, But I have a house. That doesn't mean you're off the hook. We all associate window guards with apartment living, but kids love to climb and explore, and the second story of your residence can be just as unsafe as the tenth floor of an apartment. Just because you have a fly screen doesn’t mean your kids are free of danger. The only way to make sure they are safe in rooms where they spend any amount of time unsupervised is to use window guards. Window gates don’t have to look ugly, and the residential ones open so you can exit the window in case of an emergency. We have white gates from Amazon on the windows of our kids' rooms. They look nice and are hardly noticeable from the inside or outside. And we have peace of mind knowing if they wake up from a nap early there’s no way they could get in trouble.

 

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COMMON SENSE TIP #4: Don't drape a blanket over your stroller

You’re out for a walk and the sun is strong, and it’s pretty hot out, so you grab a muslin and throw it over the stroller so your baby can have some cool shade, right? They may get a little protection from the sun, but this technique is anything but cool. Creating a tent inside the stroller cuts off air circulation, and while the sunlight doesn’t come through directly, the sun heats the air inside the stroller, possibly to dangerous levels. If you want to cool off and shade your kid, get a stroller fan and a lightweight hat for them to wear. And one more thing….

 

COMMON SENSE TIP #5: Don’t forget the sunscreen year-round

It's easy to get out of the habit of toting along sunscreen for your child, especially since we'd been told to avoid it for the first six months. But now that they're older, it needs to be part of your routine. Severe sunburns as a child increase a person's risk for skin cancer as an adult. The Skin Cancer Foundations says: "Suffering one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing potentially-deadly melanoma later in life." Don't let them be part of this statistic.

A lot of kids don't like having sunscreen applied. I've seen parents dread having to put it on. If that sounds like you just keep in mind children have very little body area to cover in the first place, so even if you have to fight them for it, it will be a quick fight. Long sleeve and one-piece bathing suits with UPF can help cover up more of their body with fabric so you have less to sunscreen.

A hat is a good idea because it helps protect their eyes and scalp as well. It's important to cover the skin on their scalp, but I'm not always eager to slather my kid's hair in lotion that will need to be shampooed out.

This tip is not just for summer. The sun can come in from unlikely places throughout the year. I have a friend whose fair-skinned child can get red on an overcast day--even if you don't feel it, the sun does come through. And consider your car windows, which don't necessarily block harmful rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation says: "If you are traveling by car, keep your baby centered in the back seat, furthest from both side windows. Even better, have UV-blocking film applied to all the windows—the sun’s UVA radiation can penetrate glass, but window film will block almost 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays without reducing visibility."

 

COMMON SENSE TIP #6: Let them go down the slide by themselves

All parents have a love/hate relationship with the playground. On one hand, it’s super fun, they get their energy out, and you might even get to sit on a bench for a minute doing nothing. But on the other hand, there’s always some structure that’s too advanced for them, and that’s the one they go for. Once your little one learns how to climb, you’re bound to see their smiling face at the top of the slide. When you do, resist the urge to climb up with them and put them on your lap. Here’s why: when your kids slide down by themselves, the force of their weight at the speed they are moving is at a safe ratio. Even if they stick out a hand or leg, the odds of seriously injuring themselves is very low. But once you add your weight and velocity, if by any chance they stuck out a leg or arm as you went down and it got wedged on the edge of the slide, they could break it. You can stand at the bottom to catch them, but you should stay off the slide yourself.

 

COMMON SENSE TIP #7: Be serious about pool safety

Kids love water, even before they know how to get in and out safely. If you have a pool or are staying at a place with a pool, make sure the gates surrounding the pool are locked. If you’re in a hotel with a direct path from your room to the pool, be vigilant about keeping the door latched. We’ve even put a chair in front of the door at night just in case she wakes up first and starts exploring. And don’t forget about smaller bodies of water. We drain the bathtub while our kids are still inside so it’s empty when we get out and there's no chance of forgetting about a full tub once the bedtime chaos is under way. Always keep your bathroom door shut, ideally with a babyproof doorknob cover.

 

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COMMON SENSE TIP #8: Be careful with newborns during flu season

This tip I learned the hard way. Both my kids were born in December, and with the first one, I was out and about after six weeks. I knew not to let other kids touch her hands or face and to wash up constantly. She weathered that flu season just fine. So when I had my second kid in December, I was relaxed and ready to...uh...weather the winter again. Except this time everything wasn't fine. I hadn't accounted for the one thing that was missing from my first time around: a grabby, gooby 2-year-old touching the baby, me, and everything around us. The result? My second child contracted RSV at 2 weeks old and spent 10 days (including Christmas and New Year's Eve) in the hospital. It was awful. The awfulest! While it's hard to prevent your toddler germ machines from infecting the house, there are a few steps you can take:

Wash their hands as often as possible in the winter.
Keep hand sanitizer in the car and near the front door so you can get clean on your way in and out of places. 

Change their clothes when they get home from school or daycare.
It's been shown that viruses can live on clothes. 

Keep newborns as separate as possible from older siblings during the first month.
When we got back from the hospital stay, we chose a designated parent for each of our two kids until the newborn recovered. Parents can act as transmitters when they help the toddler blow their nose and then rush to pick up a crying newborn. It sounds like a bummer, but spending ten days in a hospital is worse than keeping the newborn a bit isolated during his first weeks. 

Make sure the household has their flu shots.
This will help protect against many strains.

 

COMMON SENSE TIP #9: Don’t leave them in the car ever (no ifs, ands, or buts!)

We all know how quickly cars heat up and not to leave our kids in the car unsupervised while we, say, go grocery shopping, but there’s a huge gray area of time and distance away where it’s tempting to run into the dry cleaner and throw clothes on the counter while the kids are in your sight. It’s totally exhausting to keep dragging them out of the car for a two-second errand, but we have to vow to power up and do it every time. Seem paranoid? It’s not just about the car’s temperature. Here are some other reasons you might not have considered to not to leave your kids in the car (and all of these have happened to someone):

If something happens to you, people might not know you have kids waiting in a car.
They'll be stuck there longer than the 2-second errand. What could happen? The gas station gets robbed, you have some medical issue, you get hurt. These are slim chances, but we going for 100% safety, not one bad day or unexpected event away from a tragedy.

Someone could steal or hit your car.
And you won't be there to have any info about what happened.

Something could happen to your kid while they are in the car and you can’t assist them.
For example, the pacifier breaks in their mouth, or a goldfish gets lodged in their throat, or that toy finally breaks and hurts them, or one kid throws something unsafe at the other kid. (This also gets filed under the 100% safety rule.)

Someone could see your kids in the car and call the police.
This is probably the most likely scenario, and it seems harmless, but if the police come they will file a report and fine you, and you might have to get a visit (or more!) from Child Protective Services. It’s unlikely your kids will get taken away from you, but if you get charged with leaving them in the car, your life will get a lot more complicated. Save everyone the hassle of having to prove you're actually a great mom.

 

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COMMON SENSE TIP #10: Don’t mess with the formula-to-water ratio

Making the formula “light” may seem like a good trick to save money, but infants need a certain amount of nutrients and a certain amount of water. If they get too little or too much of either, it can throw their system out of whack. Especially since too much water for a baby can be toxic. If you need help getting your baby enough formula to eat, reach out to a shelter or on a local Facebook mom group. Moms in our area love to help struggling fellow moms. And a follow-up tip: memorize the poison control number. In an emergency you don’t want to have to go looking for it.

Again, if any of these scenarios sounded familiar, it's because they were all inspired by a "Devasted Mom Warns About Doing This" clickbait post that hit my feed once. If we can heed these 10 tips, our kids will be that much safer from some the most common uncommon accidents that can harm them.

And this last one isn’t a safety tip, but any common-sense mom should keep this in mind:

 

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BONUS COMMON SENSE TIP: Don’t lose their favorite toy!

This might be the hardest tip to follow, but here’s how to increase your chances of your child’s lovey sticking around longer than their baby teeth:

Don’t let lovey leave the house.
It may seem like the only thing that soothes them is this toy, and there’s no harm in going to Grandma’s with it, right? And music class? And the doctor? And then to the grocery store…oh wait…now it’s got a fuller life than Oprah. If their lovey is a bedtime doll, tell them it stays in bed. If they protest, have them pick another toy to walk around with. Now if that ends up becoming their favorite, you’re in trouble, but as long as you make a big deal about being reunited with lovey at the end of the day, lovey should remain the favorite.

We take this rule one step further and separate our toys into three categories: upstairs toys, downstairs toys, and car toys. This ensures that cherished toys stay in the house, junky car toys don’t lose their novelty when they are brought inside, and when a piece of a set goes missing, we at least know which floor it’s on. If you can commit to being this organized, it makes life a lot easier. We’ve been training our daughter in this principle since she could walk. When she comes to the stairs, dolly in hand, we simply say “that’s an upstairs toy” and she tosses it down the hallway and heads down empty-handed.

Keep a backup.
If you can’t commit to keeping lovey in bed, some parents buy a second one to stash away. The real ninja parents say to rotate them so they get the same amount of wear and tear, but I can’t pull that kind of con on my kid without getting caught. I don’t have a backup, but I did take pictures of lovey's tag with the SKU and bookmarked the item on stores and ebay so I can look it up if I ever need to replace it.

If you don’t do either of those two things, walking around with lovey can be a great way to teach kids about being responsible for their things. When you leave a place, you can ask them, “What did you take in here with you? Do you still have it? Let’s look around before we leave to make sure we didn’t leave anything.”

That's it for this week! I hope you enjoyed the tips. Share them with your parents, babysitters, other new moms, anyone who could use a little common-sense refresher course. 

And don't forget to enter our giveaway for $50 MAM gift package of assorted items including their new Perfect Pacifiers, bottles, teethers, drinking cups, oral care items, and an ergoPouch ergoCocoon swaddle to sleep bag. To enter, send an email to info@babygotchat.com with your full name and hometown. Then follow babygotchat and mam_usa on Instagram to be eligible. I'll be collecting entries until October 8.

And as always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea



 

 

How to Turn Trash Into Toys | Meet Us at Our Mom Drinks Event

If there's one thing universal about kids, it's that they love stuff. From the moment infants learn to grasp, they make it their mission to get their hands on as much stuff as possible. And when they turn into toddlers, they learn how to ask for stuff. If you're like me, you cave in--a lot. We've got piles of toys in every room in the house. They're great and all, but ever notice how kids can have fun with just a cardboard box? Or a napkin? Or a water bottle? What if we capitalized on this curiosity and instead of bringing in more new stuff--that was manufactured, shipped (probably overseas), covered in packaging, and brought to your house--we taught them to look at the stuff we already have in a new light. 

We all love tiny footprints, but what about tiny carbon footprints? Enter author Lori Fettner, who has written a book on this very topic. Read on for a special guest post:

But first, come to our Mommy Meetup this Wednesday, September 20 at Growlers Beer Bistro at 25 Main Street in Tuckahoe. It starts at 8pm, but roll in anytime between 8 and 10ish to meet likeminded moms and grab a drink or snack from the bar. 

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Keeping Baby’s Footprint Small: Earth Friendly Parenting by Lori Fettner

When I was a new parent, I went for easy, not earth friendly. But now that my daughter is almost four years old, I’ve turned back to my interest in saving our planet, and now have a sidekick helping me out and learning right along with me.

Before I throw anything away, especially large items that I can just picture sitting in a landfill for thousands of years, I think about a few things:

 

Can we use it in some other creative way? 

Growing up, we had a special toy in my house called a doodleloo. My little voice sounded so big when I spoke into it, and it made so many other toys. What is a doodleloo? It’s the cardboard left over from a roll of paper towels! Check out my new rhyming picture book to see all the things you can do with a doodleloo! Want to see more? See sample Doodleloo pages here.

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Other things I don’t throw away:
-Large boxes (I mean rocket ships, cars, trains, boats), and other packaging items that could be used as Barbie/Lego beds, dressers, etc. 
-Packaging I get when I order glass jars from Vitacost makes great art supplies: Hay for horses, hair for our various creatures, stuffing, you name it. 

 

Can anyone else use this?

I donate clothing and other household items to various charities. Many will come right to your door to take your bagged items. My local go-to is Big Brothers Big Sisters for various items, and more recently Midnight Run for men’s clothing and accessories. Midnight Run is located in Dobbs Ferry and will make pick ups as well. I also recently brought several boxes of books to my local library. (Don’t forget to ask for a tax receipt with any donation.) An alternative to donating is selling your used items. Online tag sale sites are a good option, as are stores that will buy your items for resale. Be Green Kids Consignments is having their Fall sale event at the end of the month at SUNY Purchase. Click here to read BabyGotChat's lowdown on consignment sales.

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If I can’t reuse it myself or give it to someone else, I then ask,

 

Can it be recycled?

Car seats: These often can’t be reused because of the manufacturer expiration dates, and because once they hit the secondary market there's no way to know if they have ever been in an accident. Several retailers will accept your used car seats in exchange for a discount for your concern for the environment. Babies R Us is one company that runs used-car-seat promotions throughout the year and Target is currently running a promotion that ends on 9/23. Visit Facebook.com/AuthorLoriFettner for more info.

Baby Food Pouches: These can really add up and are not recyclable. Of course it's best to make fresh food and store it in glass containers, but for easy and on-the-go, nothing beats one-time-use pouches. Even though you can't recycle them at home, you don't have to throw them in the trash. Terracycle is a program that can recycle the unrecyclable--baby food pouches included. When I asked for a list of participating organizations in our area, I was told to check our local schools, libraries, and nature centers. TThe Greenburgh Nature Center partners with Terracycle, but only for items consumed while on their premises.  I will update here if I find any place in our area where you can bring your items from home.  Unfortunately, Earth's Best is my brand of choice, and Terracycle has recently discontinued use with them.  But check them out for your other brands of baby food pouches, toothpaste tubes, and much more.

Toys: Something else I do that is a bit sneaky: I rotate my daughter’s toys. When she stops playing with something, I put it away in another room or even at the bottom of her toy box, and take it out again in a few months. It is amazing how many toys she will love again even when I think she has completely outgrown them!

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Can I change my habits to make less waste?

In addition to the ideas above, there are other options for saving our planet:

Cloth diapering: As I said before, I was not environmentally friendly with my daughter until recently, so for this portion of the post I enlisted my amazing friend Michelle, mom of twins. Here is what she had to say:

Cloth diapers can be a great way to reduce the estimated 6,500 - 10,000 disposable diapers that end up in landfills over the course of a child’s first years. While there are a large number of educational resources online offering to teach you the basics, I’d highly recommend an in-person class at a local baby store. In NYC, Greenpoint’s Wild Was Mama is a great option.

You’ll be confronted with two options at the start: a diaper service or wash at home. While diaper services offer the convenience of handling the cloth laundry, most require parents to wash the reusable liners and wipes at home. We were nervous about doing it all ourselves with newborn twins, but our instructor urged us to give it a try and indeed, it was far easier than expected. With a newborn, you’ll be facing a continual onslaught of laundry. This is just a bit more. If you go the route of washing at home, you will need diapers, covers, a diaper pail, liners and wipes. If you’re doing cloth diapers, cloth wipes are an easy add on--Etsy has the best simple flannel ones--and will save you from having a separate smelly trash can. Once your child is eating solids, I’d also recommend a diaper sprayer for the toilet (it comes in handy later on for potty training).

There are a dizzying number of diaper styles and a gorgeous array of patterns and colors, some which can quickly negate the cost savings of cloth diapers over disposable. It can take some trial and error to find the one that suits your child the best, but I’d recommend starting with the classic (and cheapest) prefolds. For newborns you can secure them with “snappies”, a plastic fastener that replaces old fashioned diaper pins, and cover with a separate cover or wrap.

To wash the dirty diapers, you simply run an extra long, extra hot cycle (refer to your washing machine’s manufacturers instructions) with a diaper friendly detergent. Once your child starts solids, you’ll have to first spray off the poop into the toilet (this is the part that tests the resolve of any cloth diaperer), but in the early milk-only days the diaper pail liner can simply be dropped into the washer--a great perk for sleep deprived parents.

The diaper stash, fold, and wash techniques will evolve with time, but remember, it needn’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Disposables can be a great option for excursions or some childcare situations.

I hope this information has been helpful to get you started on your adventure to save our planet. The nature center is a good resource for further information and a place to make learning about all this fun. My daughter loves the colorful bins, and uses the pictures to figure out where to put our trash.

There is so much else we can do, from teaching our kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room to having fun with solar power and composting experiments. No effort is too small, as long as you’re thinking about our Earth and how to protect it.

Lori Fettner is a local mom and author of four books. No Place Like Earth and What Do You Do with a Doodleloo? are Lori’s most recent rhyming picture books. She will be signing books at Barnes and Noble’s Local Author Fair on 9/24 from 12pm to 4pm in Eastchester on White Plains Road. Visit LoriFettner.com or Lori’s Facebook page for more info.

That's it for this week! Don't forget to come to our Mommy Drinks Night on Wednesday! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea



Get Pampered with your BFF in Pampers - Mommy & Me Day at the Salon

Hi everyone!

I hope Back to School went smoothly. Our little one sailed right in with no issue. Let's hope week 2 is just as good. After a summer of sun, sand, and chlorine, I was in need of a little TLC. Lucky for me the salon emporium BLVD in Scarsdale came to the rescue. A toddler in a salon? For hours? While I'm getting treatments? Read on to see how our Mommy & Me spa day went.

But first, enter our giveaway! We're giving away an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels. To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until September 15th. If you missed our Back to School post, you can read it here

When it comes to salons, kids are either loved or hated. I've heard horror stories about new moms who tried to bring their infant in a car seat with them to a manicure and either got turned away at the door or glared at by staff and other patrons. No mom needs that stress. Thankfully, BLVD is more than just kid-tolerant, even more than just kid-friendly. They were kid-loving!

BLVD is made up of four brands: Dreamdry for hair, Spruce & Bond for hair removal and peels, Valley for manicures, and Pucker for makeup application and eyelash extensions. I wanted to try a few treatments that could be watered down for my 2-year-old and I to do together, so I settled on a blowout, manicure, and makeup application. 

We came in and started with blowouts. My little one has been averse to having her hair touched lately, so she was happy to just watch me have mine done. They washed my hair and I picked from the menu of blowouts and updo services. I chose a half braid at one side of my crown with the rest down and wavy. 

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While I was getting blowdried, curled, and braided, she was off at the manicure counter getting her nails done. I chose a clear polish with small flecks of glitter for her. There wasn't much to do in the way of cuticles or buffing, but she enjoyed holding her hands perfectly still and watching them paint it on. My hair took longer than her manicure, so the technicians entertained her and set her up in the chair next to me with some cartoons on one of the salon's iPads.

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Next up it was makeup. It was early in the morning, so I decided on a purple smoky eye and soft lip. My daughter was still squeamish about getting her hair done, but the hairstylist was so patient. While I was holding still in the makeup chair unable to discipline beyond yelling threats without moving any muscles in my face, the staff was helping her stay seated, brought her juice, worked on cajoling her into getting an updo, and reset her inevitable iPad crashes. I couldn't believe how nice they were. My kid is cute, but no toddler is a good time for a stranger for more than 15 minutes. They never made me feel like we outstayed our welcome. 

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When my face was finished, she got to sit down for 5 minutes of "makeup." Her look consisted of translucent nude eye shadow and a bit of pale pink lip gloss. After a year of playing with her own fake makeup at home, she was so excited to get to try it for real. Score one for Pucker!

Makeup completed, it was time for the service I was looking most forward to: a gel manicure. Valley, the nail station, is for hands only, so you'll have to get your pedicure someplace else. But they have great colors and fun specialty treatments like foil, glitter, rhinestones, etc. I settled on a Tiffany blue polish with rainbow foil on the ring fingers.

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While I had my nails done, my daughter was finally talked into a fast and loose braid updo and was seated next to me with an episode of Peppa Pig and a juice box. She was excited to watch me get my nails done, especially the extra flair on my ring fingers. 

All in all, it was a great morning. Sure, it's not as relaxing as being in the salon alone, but if you have a little one who is game for a bit of pampering and can hang out while you get your services done, BLVD is the perfect spot to unwind and get pretty. 

My hair and nails were $50 each, and a full face of makeup was $80. Her nail treatment, considered a "polish change" was $20. I walked out feeling like a million bucks, and she was ready for the most beautiful beauty sleep of her life. 

If you're interested in having your own Mommy & Me salon day, head over to BLVD or call your preferred salon to see if they are kid-friendly, then charge the iPad, grab a few travel toys, and book away! I can't wait to do it again with her when she's a bit older.

BLVD is having a few promotions this month. See below for info from their most recent newsletter. They are also launching a Founding Membership Program with discounts all year long. Visit their website for more information.

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Don't forget to enter our giveaway to win an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels. To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until September 15th. 

That's it for this week! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs. See you next time!

Andrea


 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight: Starlight Starbright Music

Hi everyone! Our Westchester music series continues with Starlight Starbright Music, a music program that offers the curriculum of classes from the Music Together® international program. Starlight Starbright has a home base in Scarsdale and additional classes in Chappaqua and Tarrytown. This gentle, well-rounded program tucks a lot of learning in with the fun. We attended a Mixed-Age class with a toddler and infant in tow. Read on for our breakdown. And click here to attend a demo class and see for yourself.

But first, enter our giveaway! We're giving away an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels. To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until September 15th. 

The class was led by teacher and director Jackie Freimor, one of five music teachers at Starlight Starbright. A former music-class mom herself, she started the business in 2005 in order to offer a program that integrates music education and songs—both originals and classics—to let children learn while they play. Jackie led the singing in every song and occasionally played guitar as well.

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The fun started from the moment we walked in the door. A large drum was set out for free play while everyone trickled in. Once class began, we sang our hello song. Next up we made silly noises and experimented with pacing by chanting with high voices and low voices to a story about a frog. The chant included rhythm patterns, which help children organize and make sense of meter.

Next we partnered with our kids and pretended to row back and forth, side to side, and round and round with the music. My 8-month-old loved being able to feel the rhythm in the swaying. He also loved it when we stood up and galloped around the room like ponies.

Children play instruments during some songs to help reinforce rhythm. We shook our bells at different speeds to the classic children’s song Tingalayo, and even made up some verses ourselves.

One of the unique elements of Starlight Starbright was the creative approach to exploring and acting out songs. I loved the idea that hands and vocal sounds could be used to supplement the music just as well as instruments. We made bunnies with our fingers for one song and pretended to play a violin by making screechy sounds in our throats in another song. The kids were captivated.

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Jackie also taught the children tonal patterns, which are the building blocks of melody. Being able to organize and make sense of tonal structures is a child’s first step to being able to sing an entire melody. I saw very young children who were able to sing along to the tone of the song even if they didn’t have enough language skills to sing the words. Next we all played the drums, and even my 8-month-old had a blast smacking his hands on the large drums we all shared.

Toward the end of the class we explored music making through improvisation. We had a free-dance session where the kids let loose in their own interpretation of the beat, and then two giant tubs of instruments came out for free play.

Our class ended on a calm and gentle note with a snuggly lullaby and goodbye song. The lights were dimmed to help kids mellow out.

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Starlight Starbright’s Fall semester starts at the end of September and runs to the beginning of December. Classes range from “Babies” for infants 0-6 months, “Mixed Ages" for children 0-5 years to a “Rhythm” class for kids 4-8 years old. There’s even a “Guitar for Grownups” class so parents can strum along at home with their kids. There are also some unique courses like “Sing Shalom” that focuses on songs from the Jewish world and a non-Music Together Ukulele class. You and your child (ages 3-6) can learn ukulele together! Older Ukulele enthusiasts can enjoy "Ukulele Party," a non-Music Together ukulele class for adults and teens.

Want to experience it for yourself? Starlight Starbright is offering several free demos starting September 7 for the Music Together Mixed-Age, Babies, Rhythm Kids, and Sing Shalom classes. Click here to sign up.  

Don't forget to enter our giveaway to win an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels. To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until September 15th. 

As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs. See you next time!

Andrea



 

 

 

 

 

The Best School Stuff For Toddlers – Plus Enter Our Giveaway!

It’s here: my girl is starting nursery school full-time in September, and it feels like a sort of initiation. We are about to join the ranks of Back to School shoppers and it won’t let up until 2036. Oof! Luckily it’s a lot less complicated for moms of little ones. Toddler school shopping is a little different than grade school shopping. Here’s our list of stuff to buy your little ones whether they are going to school, daycare, or just spending the day with grandma.

 

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PERSONALIZED LABELS

Let’s talk labelling. Most schools require it, but even if they didn’t, your kids are going to leave their things around. In fact, just assume that everything you send them to school with will end up scattered within in a five-mile radius of their classroom. But there's more than one reason to need labels. Let’s be honest, that cute Carter’s cardigan you thought was such a good find? So did every other mother in her class. You at least want the marker stains on it to be HER marker stains, so you’re going to need labels.

Mabel’s Labels is a web-based company that makes cute, durable, personalized labels that you can buy a la carte or in awesome combo packs with themes like School, Daycare, Sleepaway Camp, and much more. Their product packs will keep you covered from the first day of school through summer. Mabel's Labels are full color with lots of fun themes, icons, and fonts to match your kid’s personality. We had the pleasure to check out a Little Kid School Combo, which contains washable clothing stickers, washable name stickers for everything else, special shoe labels that also help your kids determine the right and left shoe, and luggage tags for their backpacks and lunch totes. We’ve been using them all summer at daycare and they stay on her clothes and water bottle without fading or ripping.

Enter our giveaway! We're giving away an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels. To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until September 15th. 

 

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SNACK CONTAINERS

There are three stages to a toddler’s life: Pre-Cheerios, Cheerios, and Post-Cheerios. I’m luckily in Pre- and Post- with my two, but for all of you in the middle of Cheerios time, you’ll want to pack them in containers that don’t spill and are easy for little hands to reach into. My favorite are Ubbi Tweat Snack Containers. They come in fun bright colors, are easy to assemble, and they have what many other containers are missing: a lid on top that helps keep food fresh, so the animal crackers you poured on Monday have a fighting chance of still being fresh when you dig the container out from behind the couch on Wednesday.

 

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FIRST/LAST DAY OF SCHOOL WRITE-ON BOARDS

This is a must for any Instagram Mom. They started popping up a few years ago and they are such a cute tradition! It’s so fun to see how much they change between the first and last day of school. It’s super easy: Just fill in the blanks with their info, put your little one on your front stoop, and hand them the board on the first or last day of … whatever. There are a lot of products out there with varying degrees of personalization and extra info, such as favorite color, teacher’s name, height, weight, etc. They also come in dry-erase or chalkboard. We picked out a custom dry erase board from Personalization Mall. I fill in whatever momentous day I’m commemorating along with some other fun info.

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If you want a more traditional chalk board, Pearhead makes a great version that’s simple and classic. It might be worth skipping one with all those extra details so you don't have to worry about measuring your child's height and weight at 7am on the first day of school when you’re trying to get out the door. If you go the classic chalkboard route, I’d use one just like this and supplement it with a video of your child telling you some of their favorite things.

 

BACKPACK

Nothing says Back to School like a new backpack. The trouble with backpacks for toddlers is that they need to be small, they need to be discernible on the rack, and they need to be labelled. Most parents go to L.L.Bean, Lands End or Pottery Barn Kids for traditional bags, or Toys R Us for almost every licensed character out there. But I wanted something just a bit more unique than the first three stores, and since a toddler’s allegiances change faster than their shoe size, I was hesitant to send her off with a licensed bag. Sure, she loves Paw Patrol today, but I know she’ll be into something totally different come October.

But her love of all things girly is here to stay, so I opted for a classic pink backpack with her name boldly printed across it from Stuck On You, an Australian company that specializes in personalized kids items. They offer unique graphics to accompany your kid’s name and a variety of items to personalize, including newborn muslin wraps, bibs, name jigsaw puzzles, and coloring books. I'm excited for this backpack to stand out on the cubby wall and to reinforce name recognition with my toddler.

 

LUNCH BOX

Unless you’re signed up for the hot lunch program, your child is going to be toting food to school. Your goal is to make that food easy to access and the storage container hard to lose. You can opt for a soft pouch food bag, which can handle those inevitable drops on the floor, but now you also have to supply more containers to hold the food inside it. Too much for a 3-year-old to keep track of? What if their lunch box could hold their food directly and also be used as a serving tray?

 

Enter Stuck On You’s Bento Box. It’s a durable, hardshell box with an airtight seal that holds everything they need for lunchtime, divided into toddler-belly-sized compartments, complete with suggestions on packing a well rounded lunch. With the Bento Box, there are no small pieces to lose, it goes right in the dishwasher, and you can personalize it with names and designs. Putting the food directly into the container’s compartments also means less waste. The ability to forgo a year of baggies, tin foil, and/or throwaway containers will have a big impact on your purse strings and carbon footprint.

That’s all for now! I hope everyone has a great back-to-school season. And teachers, thank you for giving all of us tired parents a break for several hours a week and returning our kids smarter than we left them.

Don't forget to enter our giveaway to win an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels. To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until September 15th. 

As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs. See you next time!

Andrea


Eclipse Safety: How and Where to Watch with Children

The solar eclipse is coming up on Monday. There are lots of things to know before you step outside. Read on to learn when to see it, how to see it, and where to see it (how about at a library party?)

WHEN TO CATCH THE ECLIPSE

A total eclipse is making a path from Oregon to South Carolina over several hours on Monday afternoon. Since we are north of that, we won’t be able to see a complete eclipse in Westchester, but experts predict we will see about a 70% covering. Pretty cool!

In our viewing radius, the eclipse will last about an hour and a half, beginning around 1:30pm, peaking around 2:45pm when the moon hits the center of the sun, and ending around 4pm.

If you can’t get outside at that time, you can watch the eclipse live at NASA’s website. Click here for more info.

 

HOW TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE SAFELY

Whether it's a good idea to watch the eclipse in person depends on your child’s age. Let’s first talk about the risks. Watching the eclipse without any eye protection can be blinding, as you are literally burning your retinas, and since they don’t have any pain receptors, you won’t have any idea the damage is happening. According to Angela Fritz of the Washington Post, “Depending on the sky conditions, it only takes about a minute and a half for your eyes to be permanently damaged, and the damage is cumulative, meaning you don’t have to stare at the sun without looking away for it to be harmful — you may just be taking quick glances, but it’s still damaging your eye.”

And don’t just think you can slap on some sunglasses and call it a day. Sunglasses only block up to 60% of light rays, but eclipse glasses block 99.9%. They’re the only safe way to watch directly. Want a pair? Call your public library, as they have all been issued safe glasses. Or you can head to a store, but you risk getting a pair that is not authorized. How do you know if your pair is safe to use? NASA has released a list of the only 5 authorized manufacturers:

• Baader Planetarium
• Rainbow Symphony
• Thousand Oaks Optical
• TSE 17
• American Paper optics.

Once you verify the manufacturer, check for the ISO number 12312-2 printed on the side.

Got your hands on some glasses? Check the fit on your child. If your child is old enough to keep the glasses safely on without removing them or peeking around the lenses, you should be safe. If they don’t pass the test, there are still a few ways to watch the eclipse.

Make a pinhole camera

With a pinhole camera, you can stand with your back to the sun and watch the eclipse as it’s reflected through a tiny hole poked into a surface. This is a safe way to let your little ones get outside for the eclipse without worrying about their vision. Here are two DIY guides to make a pinhole camera. This is a great project to complete with a curious kid!

Click here for NASA’s pinhole camera project.

Click here for the Boy Scouts of America’s pinhole camera project

 

Watch it streaming

This is what I recommend if you have little ones who want to watch. This will also be your best bet if it’s cloudy or raining, because unless the sun is out in a clear sky you won’t be able to see the magic anyway. NASA is streaming the eclipse live here.

 

 BEST PLACES TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE                                          

Any place with an unobstructed view of the sun during the eclipse time will be perfect. Not sure if your back yard is a candidate? Head outside during the future eclipse timeframe on a sunny day this weekend and see where the sun is. Most large parks will have a good view as well.

A number of libraries are throwing viewing parties. If you’re interested in attending, call to verify that there are spots left and that you are eligible. Check out our list below for a sampling of libraries that are sponsoring viewing parties.

Warner Public Library, Tarrytown

Riverfront Library, Yonkers

Crestwood Library, Yonkers

Harrison Public Library

Chappaqua Public Library

Eastchester Public Library

Mamaroneck Public Library

Ossining Public Library 

 

Wherever and however you watch it, we hope you have a great time! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


Part 3: How to Display Your Zillion Baby Photos

Hi everyone! We’re back with our final installment of our photo series: How to Display Your Zillion Baby Photos. I’ve collaborated with professional (amazing!) kids and family photographer Jaye McLaughlin of The Life in Your Years Photography to tackle the harrowing topic of what to do with all those photos. Read on for my system and her professional tips.

Read Part 1 in our series.

Read Part 2 in our series.

But first: We have the winner of our Family Four Pack of Tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Ridge Hill in Yonkers. Watch to see if you won.

 

STEP 3: DISPLAY YOUR PHOTOS

When we last left off, we were sorting our photos into two projects: a slimmed-down Best of The Year highlights photo scrapbook, and 4x6 prints of everything else that’s good enough to print. But those aren’t the only options. Read on for some more ideas.

THE ALBUM OF PRINTS

Let’s start with the easy part. Now that you have loads of photos in your to-print album, you just need to upload them to a site (I prefer adoramapix.com), choose a size and finish (I like 4x6 luster finish, which is a type of matte), and head to a store or the web to purchase your blank photo albums. I use simple 4x6 sleeve albums from Amazon. I don’t try to fit everything in one book. Instead I buy matching albums that hold about 200 photos each for each kid for each year. Then you just have to load the prints in and you’re done. Adoramapix.com has a free option to label the back of the photo with the filename and/or date, which makes it easier to sort should your stack get knocked over by, say, an enthusiastic toddler.

THE DIGITAL FRAME

Since you’ve gone through all that trouble to make a digital album of selects, why not upload them to a digital frame and enjoy your photos 24-7? There are several digital picture frames out there, but I like my Nixplay frame. It connects with WiFi and uses their website nixplay.com to access your photos from the most popular photo storage places, such as Google Photos or iPhoto. You can easily add files to an album on Nixplay and make a collage, controlling the transitions and rotation time. You can also buy a frame for grandma or grandpa and hook them up to the same account, so they can share in the fun. The best part is when you add new photos to your album, they come up across all your frames, whether in your home or at grandma’s house.

THE PHOTO WALL

My favorite way to display my best photos is a wall of framed snapshots in the house. But making one is easier said than done. Do it the right way, and it adds coziness and warmth to your home. Do it the wrong way, and it turns into College-Meets-IKEA decorating. Want tips to get it right? Check out our upcoming DIY Decorating Blog to find out.

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THE ANNUAL SCRAPBOOK

This will be your opus. These albums take a long time to make, so if you want it for the holiday season, you’ll need to get started this fall. I like to have mine done by Cyber Monday so I can take advantage of the sales and have them printed and delivered in time for Christmas.

If you followed our last post, you’ve taken the time to make that highly curated Best Of The Year album on your computer or in a service like Google Photos, so now is the time for all that hard work to pay off. Your impulse will be to dive right in and start uploading to the first photobook website you see, but take some time to browse around and find exactly what you want. I loved Adoramapix when I created my wedding album because it had classy extras like leather binding and metallic edges, but I found their templates were a bit too stuffy for a 1-year-old’s first scrapbook. I ended up using Shutterfly because I liked their baby theme templates. Jaye uses McGuire Storybooks for her professional photo books because their quality is top notch and Blurb.com for her annual family scrapbooks because she likes the ease of use.

Next, decide what size and shape you want the album to be. Do you need it to fit on a bookshelf, or should it be coffee-table size? Or perhaps you want it smaller to fit on a nightstand or in a child’s room. You can change your mind later, but it’s better to start with the exact template you want to avoid any issues from resizing. I learned the hard way when I went to change the size after I created last year's book, and some of the text on the pages got altered because it didn’t shrink quite to scale.

Once you have all that worked out and have chosen a template as a starting point, The next step is to upload your pictures to the scrapbook platform. BUT WAIT! Are your photos going to be uploaded chronologically? If they are on your computer in any other way, take the time now to reorder them or rename the files, whatever it takes to get them in the Shutterfly (or other service) holding spot in the correct order. If you don’t, it will take you twice as long to scroll through your collection trying to figure out what photo should come next. Got it set? Great! Upload away!

Now you’re ready to go, working within the template to place the photos into the pages, keeping in mind variety of layouts, page and frame colors, any captions you want to add, and any elements of art that you want to pop in to accent your pages.

Sounds too easy? Full disclosure: I am a graphic designer by trade, so this is my jam. I’m in my zone using fun fonts, cute phrases, and combining elements from the template to make a supercute finished project. If you’re anything less than a career designer, you might want to heed Jaye’s pared-down approach. Here’s what she recommends for anyone who is intimidated by the task of laying out a scrapbook:

Designing the pages of your scrapbook is time consuming and overwhelming, but I’ve got some tips on how to get it done fairly painlessly.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

Keep it simple

I like to keep my family photo books classic so they will never go out of style. It might be fun to lay on the bells and whistles now, but you might not like fancy layouts and colorful photo frames in ten years. The bigger reason is that simple is just easier, and easier = more likely to get done. So my pages highlight my favorite photos on a white background.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

Keep it clean

Let’s face it, you want your favorite photos to be BIG, so that you can drink in every detail when you revisit the book again and again. I like to choose a “hero” shot for each spread and place it large on one side. On the other side, I include a few smaller, related images that complement the hero.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

Don’t forget to tell the story

Don’t be so brutal in your culling process that you eliminate those little "in between" moments and details that tell the story of your life. A book full of photos of uniformly perfect smiles will be nice to look at, but it won’t be nearly as interesting in one that tells a story with outtakes and and details — just like real life.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

Remove roadblocks

If you find yourself slowing down your pace, ask yourself what is holding you back. Can you just leave that part out? For me, it used to be torture coming up with titles, captions and commentary that I thought should be part of my albums. I would start out strong, but after a while they would sound so CORNY. I cringed imagining myself reading those captions years down the road. I finally realized I was better off with no words in my album designs, and was able to get them printed much more quickly.  

After the printed versions arrive, I page through with a Sharpie and add headings and notes, and the end result is much more natural. Figuring out and eliminating my roadblock enabled me to power through and get to the finished book.

Jaye's next two tips are so genius I had to share them with you:

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

BONUS TIP 1

One day I noticed that my daughter was taking cameraphone photos of the printed pages of our photo scrapbooks in order to share them digitally, and I realized she had no good way to download the photo files in the book without giving her the power to access (and possibly accidentally destroy) all my digital photos. Plus how would she know where to even start looking? To fix this, I now burn a CD of the photos included in each book and tape it to the inside cover. Now anyone can access digital versions quickly and easily.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

BONUS TIP 2

If your designed book is feeling a little…cold, with all those perfect shots and whitespace, try this trick: Sprinkle a few pages of tightly gridded, smaller Instagram-style shots. This adds a more spontaneous, personal, yearbook style that complements the larger, more formal layouts.

I hope that was helpful! Thanks again to Jaye McLaughlin for expert advice. Be sure to check out her blog for everything you need to know about family photography. That wraps up our series. I hope you have everything you need to go forth and conquer your photo To Do list. 

As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


 

 

Good Dirty Fun at Mess Fest

Hi everyone!

Thanks for entering our giveaway for a Family Four Pack of tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Ridge Hill in Yonkers. Stay tuned next week when we'll announce the winner.

We’re taking a break from our photo series to tell you about an awesome event that happened over the weekend: The 2017 Mess Fest at Kiwi Country Day Camp, a fundraising day of play organized by The Muddy Puddles Project. Tickets were $35 (or you can go for free if you sign up to fundraise a minimum of $100 for the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation which collects money for pediatric cancer research.) For $35 a person, we had high expectations, and we were blown away by how much there was to do at every age level.

Missed the fun? Read on to find out how you can host your own Mini Mess Fest birthday or block party to benefit the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation.

The event was from 11am to 4pm at the expansive grounds of the day camp. Visitors had access to four swimming pools, a lake with slides and logrolls, kayaking and paddle boating, basketball courts, tennis courts, a climbing wall, a golf driving range, a zip line, two playgrounds, mini golf, and much more. You could spend the whole day on those alone, but the Mess Fest also had tons of additional (messy) activities, including a food fight area, muddy puddles to jump in, splatter painting, a “kiddie car wash” foam machine, whipped cream pie toss, mud pit, and dirty dunk.

A balloon pop, arts and crafts, temporary hair color, balloon twisting, face painting, henna tattoos, nail art, three inflatable activity slides, a giant slip n slide set up hillside, an obstacle course, tye dye station, bounce station, candy sushi making, kiddie bingo, sensory art, and treasure hunts.

Not enough? There was also entertainment by magicians, a band, and character appearances by Disney princesses Aurora and Anna, Star Wars figures, and Peppa Pig.

There was so much to do and so much space to do it in that there were very few lines. We spent about two hours having a blast before we had to head out to accommodate naps, and I wish I had been there all day to be able to experience everything. There’s plenty of room to walk around and the grounds are stroller friendly. If you want to get muddy and covered with paint, you can, but if you want to stay clean and dry, that’s easy too.

Our 2.5 year olds had a blast on the inflatables, the foam machine, and playing in the sand by the lake. The food for purchase was delicious and reasonably priced (or maybe it seemed that way because we just got back from Disney World). There was Peppa Pig merchandise for grabs at suggested donation and a raffle of Peppa-themed prizes. We went home with a free bottle of laundry detergent from sponsor Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. There was a special VIP area for children and families affected by pediatric cancer that featured toys and giveaways. This was one of the best local events we’ve ever been to, and we can’t wait to be first in line next year to get tickets. Put this on your radar for summer 2018 and don’t worry, we’ll remind you next year.

If you missed the event but want to get involved, you can visit The Muddy Puddles Project website or the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation website. You can donate, purchase merchandise, or even host your own Welly Walk Fundraiser or Mini Mess Fest. Some volunteers will be entered to get the chance to win a meet-and-greet with Peppa Pig.

Click here to view instructions and downloadable materials for your own Mini Mess Fest or click here for information on hosting your own Welly Walk.

That's it for this week! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs. And don't forget to tune in next week to see if you won the family four pack to LEGOLAND in Ridge Hill.

See you next time!

Andrea


Part 2: How to Organize Your Zillion Baby Photos

We’re back with our second installment of this series. I’m collaborating with kids and family photographer Jaye McLaughlin of The Life in Your Years Photography to bring you professional advice in addition to my own tips. Click here to read our first post about how to best store and back up your photos. I'll wait.... You back? Now that we’ve safeguarded them, let’s move on to the next step.

But first, have you entered our giveaway? Win a Family Four Pack of tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Ridge Hill in Yonkers! To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until July 31st. 

STEP 2: ORGANIZE YOUR PHOTOS

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

I already mentioned that for every cute photo I have of my kids, I have 5 or 6 outtakes that I can’t bring myself to delete. If you have more willpower than me and always pare down to your favorite shot the moment you take photos, this next part will be much easier. If you don’t, you’ll eventually have to go through and decide which shots to use in a printed album or photo book. The best way to do this?

Note: This walkthrough uses Google Photos as the storage app, but no matter where your photos are stored, the process should be similar.

Before we can sort, we need to define the end product. My goal is to design annual photo books of my children that use about 75 iconic shots that define the year. I probably have three times that many cute shots, so what do I do with those extra pictures that don’t deserve eternal banishment to the digital world, but also shouldn’t be clogging up a curated photo book?

I print them out in 4x6 size and put them into old-school, your-mom-made-em-in-the-80s photo albums. This lets me enjoy all the good photos AND design a photo book that isn’t 300 pages long and/or crammed full of photos scaled to 1” size.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

So, with that end in mind, I sort all my photo files into a "to print" digital album in Google Photos, and then out of those selects I create a smaller "photo book" album of about 75 favorites. Sorting them twice might seem like more work, but I prefer it because when it comes time for the photo book selects, I’m only looking at my favorites, not everything, so I can get a sense of how the photo book collection will look as a piece (it’s easier to notice if your kid is wearing the same outfit in four photos when you are going through 100 photos versus going through 500).

Plus, the first time you sort, you can do it more easily. You're just asking yourself: Yes or No? Print or don’t? I don’t have to tear my hair out wondering “Is this PHOTO BOOK good?” Plus, you’ll want 4x6 original prints of all the photos you end up using in your photo book since they’ll probably get cropped or altered as you design the book.

It may be an easy sort, but it’s also tedious, so if you have a whole year’s worth of photos to go through you might want to break it into smaller chunks. I used to work on this during my morning commute because it’s the perfect activity when you’re groggy.

Here’s what to do: Starting with the photos from January 1st and working to the end of the year, you’re going to look at every photo you have and decide (quickly, gut instinct), if you want to add this to your 4x6 print pile. If there are several versions of the same pose, pick the best one. I create an album in Google Photos called “2017 [kid’s name] Selects” and add the photos I want to keep to this album. When you’re done, you should have twelve months of printworthy photos in the one album of selects. Don’t be scared by how many you have. 4x6 prints are so cheap, you’ll probably spend more on the actual photo albums than you will filling them.

A NOTE ABOUT RETOUCHING: I know we all want to be thinner with no visible pores or bags under our eyes, but when you’re creating an album of family photos, try not to go crazy worrying about retouching. It will just suck up your time and no one will notice or care about the difference. If you need a little more convincing, read this article, or repeat to yourself about people noticing your flaws: “The ones that care don’t matter, and the ones that matter don’t care.” The same goes for Instagram-style filters. You can worry about making every photo amazing in your final photo book, but for the 4x6 prints, the original lighting and coloring is fine.

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

PHOTO BY JAYE MCLAUGHLIN

Now that you've made an album of favorites, you could stop there and bask in the fact that you’ve already done more than most moms. Then you just have to upload the album you made onto a photo printing website (I prefer adoramapix.com prints in “luster” finish) and print them out. If you don’t have a deadline and can wait for a deal, you can upload your pictures now and print them once you get a discount code.

Or you can keep working to make a photo book. For this you’ll want about 35-75 fantastic photos. To find these, I go into my “selects” folder and start picking the best of the best. I copy them to another album called “[kid’s name] Best of 2017” This album should be a lot quicker to fill, as you’re going through fewer photos and you’re looking for only the iconic and most memorable moments of the year.

Jaye’s got a similar system for sorting through the hundreds of pictures she takes every year with the goal of printing an annual photo book. Her folders of “faves”, “to include” and “to exclude” piles are made digitally within Adobe Lightroom, but the same principle applies: do the (brutal!) sorting early on so you can make the actual photo book design at the end of the year a much less behemoth task. She says:

"If you’re like me, you’ve got a LOT of photos. Start the design process with the expectation that you’re NOT going to include every. single. photo. A little organization on the front end will save you tons of time when you’re designing the layouts.  Knowing going in which photos will be included in the book, and which will be the “heroes” will make designing the actual pages much easier, since you’ll have only the actual photos you’re using in front of you and you’ll know from the start which ones you want to highlight in the design."

Jaye's “to exclude” photos don’t get printed the way they would with my system, but she’s got a sort of consolation prize for many of the ones that wouldn’t make it into her highly curated annual book: 

I use Chatbooks! Chatbooks are small bound books of photos automatically collected and mailed to you. How does it work? They use a middle man: Instagram. Even if you don’t use Instagram regularly, you could start posting your favorite photos there throughout the month. My goal is to make sure my favorites get printed, and I know that if they don’t make it onto Instagram, they don’t end up in print.  

A Chatbook is created once you’ve reached 60 photos, however long that takes. You get the opportunity to choose a cover photo and make any changes, and a few days later it’s on its way.

You did it! Now we can move on to our third installment: Displaying your photos. We’ll talk about designing the photo book and getting the best out of the pictures you have. Thanks to Jaye McLaughlin for her tips! Be sure to check out her website for more info.

Read Part 3 in our series.

That's it for this week! This is your last chance to enter our giveaway! Win a Family Four Pack of tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Ridge Hill in Yonkers! To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until July 31st. As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


 

 

How to Store, Organize, and Display Your Zillion Baby Photos

Like most moms, I'm constantly taking pictures of my kids. I have photos of my oldest from literally every day of the first year of her life. And since toddlers don’t pose, each moment I shoot on camera has about 5 or 6 different outtakes. Multiply that by their age in days, and we’re talking close to 10,000 photos and counting! Pare down, you say? Ever try to delete a photo of your child? That would be like picking out a Cronut to throw away (um, they’re all good, even the ones that don’t look perfect!). Take these three photos. It's blurry because he's bouncing. So cute! How am I supposed to delete that? Which brings us to...

How am I ever going to organize these pictures into albums? And what happens if I lose my phone? It’s enough to make any mom dump the jpegs on her desktop and call it a day.

Photo by Jaye McLaughlin

Photo by Jaye McLaughlin

You can get your pictures under control quickly and easily—all it takes is a plan, and you’ve got to find one that works for you.  I’ve collaborated with professional (amazing!) kids and family photographer Jaye McLaughlin of The Life in Your Years Photography to tackle the harrowing topic of what to do with all those photos and show you what has worked for us. Read on for my system and her professional tips. This is the first installment of a 3-part series.

But first, have you entered our giveaway? Win a Family Four Pack of tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Ridge Hill in Yonkers! To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until July 31st. 

 

PART 1: STORE YOUR PHOTOS

If your photos live solely on a phone or computer, you’re one accident away from losing all your irreplaceable family memories. Sure, you have some pics on Facebook, but most of those aren’t high quality enough to print. You need a place to put the photos where they are backed up and safe. At home, we have an external hard drive and it’s great for storage, but it makes accessing and sorting through the photos a pain. And besides, what mom can sit down at a computer with jealous children yelling and swatting at the keyboard? I need photos I can wade through while holding my phone high in the air out of reach.

Enter Google Photos. Not only does it store your photos in the cloud, where fire, rain (ironically), and tiny hands that seek to destroy aren’t an issue, but it also contains searchability and auto-formatting that traditional hard-drive desktop folders can't offer. I can launch the app on my phone and click a button called “Free Up Space” that will back up AND delete local copies to clear out my phone’s memory so I can shoot 100 more 30-second video clips of my son maybe-almost-but-actually-not-crawling.

Google Photos also uses face recognition so you can sort by person. Their search bar is so advanced, I can search by location (it automatically geotags your photos), by keyword, by specific date, etc. I’ve searched things like “playground”, “library”, “receipt”, “paint” and found what I was looking for.  The is a huge advantage to using your computer's folders because you aren't limited to only knowing the date and file name. You might not remember exactly when that hibachi dinner was, but on Google Photos it doesn’t matter because you can easily figure it out with a keyword, person, or location search.

The home screen has an Assistant tab that displays flashback photos (“Rediscover this day”), automatically makes collages and albums based on date or location, and makes gif animations from your bursts or series of similar photos. You can also make your own versions of animations or collages.

Google Photos has a free version, but we decided to migrate every picture we've ever taken. For access to upgraded storage and features, we pay $10 a month. To give us peace of mind and ease of use, it’s totally worth it.

Photo by Jaye McLaughlin

Photo by Jaye McLaughlin

Jaye has a more professional storage system if you want to go the hard drive route or can’t handle the thought of all those files not being tucked neatly into folders. She writes:

Start with a “Pictures” folder, create subfolders within for each year, then make subfolders in those for each month. I start these folder names with the number for each month (i.e. “1-January”). Why? Because your computer will list the months in alphabetical order if you don’t give it some reason not to.

Once a month, I make sure that all the photos I have recently taken have been downloaded to my computer. I save them all in a folder of originals labeled for that month. I go through this folder and delete the duds and duplicates. Then I sort them into the “Pictures” folder by date.

 

That’s it for now. In our next installment, we’ll talk about how to organize your photos to quickly create albums of print-ready or photobook-ready shots. A special thanks to Jaye McLaughlin for her tips! For more photo advice, check out her blog.

Read Part 2 in our series.

Read Part 3 in our series.

And don't forget to enter our giveaway! Email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until July 31st. 

As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


Baby Races and Win a Family Four Pack to Legoland Westchester

On your mark, get set, go! The NYC Triathlon Diaper Derby was held this past Friday. In its eighth year, the Diaper Derby is a crawling race among about 30 young athletes. Dubbed “The Slowest Two Minutes in Sports,” this race is more about personality than agility. Who will get distracted by the photographers? Who will freeze at the starting line? Who will focus on the remote control being waved by mommy and crawl over without delay?  

BabyGotChat’s resident infant, Cameron, was our representative from Westchester. He was entered in the race weeks earlier, and I was sure he’d be crawling on race day based on his older sister's progress at his age. But he's a lover, not a crawler, and when we arrived at the midtown NYC Hilton, he still hadn’t taken his first…uh…what’s the crawling version of a first step?

But he had enthusiasm! He had fun putting his special onesie and bib and hanging out with the babies on the mat. And funnily enough, he wasn’t the only baby not to move when the announcer shouted “Go!” In the end, the prize went to 11-month old Brooke from Dallas. But I think Cameron picked up some tips on the racetrack because he ALMOST crawled today.

 

WIN A FAMILY FOUR PACK OF TICKETS TO LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER WESTCHESTER

Early this morning (well, early to some. A mom's 7am is like a normal person's 10am) we visited LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Ridge Hill in Yonkers to check out their new Ninjago play space and celebrate the launch of their two-week event "Kids vs. Grown-Ups Imagination Build-Off Challenge". This 5-minute faceoff has parents and kids competing to see who can design the most creative LEGO structure. Winners will be entered for a chance to win a private build session with our Master Model Builder. If you want to participate, visit the LEGO Master Builder Academy inside the Discovery Center July 17th-20th and July 24th- 27th at 3:30pm an 5:30 pm.

WPIX 11 News was there, and my little one got her fifteen minutes of fame. Click here for the video.

If you haven't been to Legoland recently, they have remodeled their play structure to be more LEGOfied than their original basic play place. Ninjago City Adventure boasts areas to climb, balance, and spin to your heart's content. At the Discovery Center there are also two amusement-park-style rides, a theatre, a toddler area with giant foam LEGOs, a girly LEGO Lounge with couches and pink blocks, and a snack bar with LEGO cash registers. My little one ran around for hours. She was a bit too small to climb into the play structure without my help, but rumor has it they are starting up their Little Playtimes for toddlers in the fall, where you can bring your preschool set without worrying about getting slammed by the older kids. We'll be back this fall with a review.

Want to see for yourself? Win a Family Four Pack! To be entered in the drawing, email info@babygotchat.com with your full name, hometown, and phone number. I'll be collecting entries until July 31st. 

For discount admission to LEGOLAND, mention the code WPIX to save 20% at the door or buy your tickets online here

That's it for this week! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


 

 

The Cheap Mom’s Guide to Westchester

We live in one of the richest counties—newspapers love to point out how much more we pay for real estate and taxes. It may seem to the rest of America that we're crazy for sticking around, but with so many nearby things to do, especially for kids, it's hard to imagine living anywhere else.

But those things come at a price: Maritime Museum on Monday, Rockin' Jump on Tuesday, the Children’s Museum on Wednesday, etc., can really add up. I have to be careful to pick one or two paid activities a week or I could easily blow all our mad money on experiences my child might be too young to remember. It's especially painful to spend $25 on one hour of excitement at a play spot when she seems to have as much fun playing with the empty Amazon box in the living room.

So if you’re looking for kid-friendly experiences around town and don’t want to break the bank, here are my best cheapskate spots:

 

EAT FOR CHEAP

If you haven’t familiarized yourself with my list of places kids eat free, click here and commit it to memory. Otherwise, big chains and diners are great places to feed kids for less. When we get breakfast with our toddler at the diner, instead of getting a plate of eggs, bacon and toast, we order a scrambled egg sandwich. It’s about half the price and has all the same elements. The amounts will be a bit smaller, but it’s the perfect amount for a tiny tummy.

 

 

PLAY FOR CHEAP

If you haven’t done a free trial at every baby gym in Westchester, you’re missing out on about three months of weekly free play sessions. Every gym I’ve contacted offers a free trial for prospective members. Once you try them all, it might surprise you which gym your little one prefers. Don’t think there are that many? When we were shopping around with a 1-year-old, we tried, Gymboree, Great Play, Gymtime Place, Kids U, World Cup, Little Gym, My Gym, and Kidville. There’s also Gymcats, Kids In Sports, and all types of dance, martial arts studios, art studios, and music classes to try out. Have fun with it and you might find a new favorite spot!

Once you burn through all those, there are still more deals to be had:

  • World Cup in Chappaqua offers a free Mommy and Daddy Meetup 45-minute class on Wednesdays in their Romperee (3 and under) gym. This class is for expecting and new moms and dads to meet and learn about childcare and wellness topics. They have featured speakers on topics such as "The Rollercoaster of Motherhood" and "Exploring Your Child's Emotional Life Through Reading." It's free for you, baby, and any toddler siblings to attend. If you haven't been to this Romperee, it's one of the best for the under-3 set. Check their website for dates and times.
  • If you can get to The Play Place in Elmsford before 9:30 am, you can play for two hours for $5, and a second child under a year old is free.

 

  • The Palisades Center has some fun activities that are pretty cheap. It’s about $3 each for kids to ride the carousel and indoor ferris wheel at the mall, and the operators let parents go free.

 

  • The Westchester Mall has a play area on the top floor that will only cost you the price of parking ($3). Click here for my review.
     
  • And, of course, you could visit a different playground in Westchester every day for months and not retrace your steps. Check out the Facebook page Playgrounds in Westchester for reviews, photos, and recommendations.
     
  • You all know by now to check out our list of Weekly Library Programs, but if you haven’t, these are the best free ways to entertain and socialize your child (and yourself!). My personal favorites are Scarsdale Library, Crestwood Library in Yonkers, Irvington Library, Harrison Library, and Warner Library in Tarrytown. You don’t have to be a resident of a particular town to attend most library events. In addition to weekly story times, there are also tons of special programs like kiddie concerts, truck day, free play, meet-a-service dog, movies, and so on, so be sure to check out the library's event calendar. Some programs require advance registration.


 

  • When you’re at the library, inquire about their free museum passes. You can only check out passes from your town’s library, but odds are they have tickets to places like the Guggenheim, the Intrepid, Stone Barns Center, The Katonah Museum of Art, and the Hudson River Museum. Borrowing passes could turn a $100 day on the town into a $30 day. Just go easy in the museum shop.
     
  • There are also cheap ways for parents to play. A lot of gyms offer Parents Night Out that can start as early as 2 years old. This drop-off program is typically three hours long and costs around $35. Kids get to have fun and hang out, and you get a night out (albeit one with an early curfew). Cheaper than the average rate of a babysitter and with a lot less stress, some of the gyms that offer this are Little Gym in Scarsdale, My Gym in Mamaroneck, and World Cup in Chappaqua.

 

SHOP FOR CHEAP

  • If you have something specific you are looking for and don’t need it to be brand new, it’s worth checking out Once Upon a Child in Scarsdale or Affordables in Dobbs Ferry. They have a selection of strollers, walkers, bouncers, swings, plastic toys, and outdoor toys all at about ¼ of the price you’d pay new.
     
  • My favorite finds at Once Upon a Child are fancy dresses. They have a section dedicated to formal wear and I’ve never seen anything over $10. I got a gorgeous pink Disney dress and a blue sequined dress with the original tags for $5 each. The selection is always changing, but if you have a wedding or special event your little one is attending and they’ll only need to wear it once, this is a great place to look before you plunk down $50 at Lord & Taylor.
     
  • Facebook has tons of local kids’-stuff tag sale groups that are fun to browse around on. Just a few of the ones you can join are Westchester Moms Tag SalesWestchester County Kids and Baby Drama-Free Tag Sale, and Westchester Tag Sale: Babies/Kids
     
  • Our dollar stores have a big selection of toys, but I’m wary about how safe the plastic is on these super-cheap playthings. I’d pass over anything a child might put in his mouth, but these shops are a great place to find stickers, school supplies, party supplies, and accessories (I got a big box of rainbow elastic hairbands for $1). This is my go-to place for “car toys”, (small stuff to play with in the car that you don’t care if it gets lost or thrown out the window on the Bronx River Parkway.) I’m close to Dollar Dream in Yonkers, but there’s many others like Amazing Savings in Scarsdale and Dollar Tree in New Rochelle.

 

That’s it for this week. I hope this list has inspired you to get more bang for your buck. Got a tip not featured here? Let us know on our Facebook page! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


Watch the fireworks in Westchester

Hi everyone! Happy Fourth! I'm still in vacation mode from our trip to Miami and the Keys last week, so I'll make this short. My friend The Flooring Girl has worked tirelessly on a list of local fireworks, in case huddling together on the FDR for a glimpse at the Macy's show isn't your thing.

Click here to access her full list.

Here's a brief summary of towns hosting fireworks in the next few days.

MONDAY, JULY 3

Ossining
Rye Playland
Kensico Dam in Valhalla

TUESDAY, JULY 4

Dobbs Ferry
Harrison
Irvington
Katonah
Mamaroneck
New Rochelle
Peekskill
Port Chester
Rye Playland
Sleepy Hollow

SATURDAY, JULY 8

Tuckahoe

Click here to access her full list with details and times.

That's it for this week! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


 

 

Toddler Travel Tips

Hi everyone! It's summer vacation season and we've got some tips on travelling with little ones in the airport, on the plane, and at the hotel room. 

IN THE AIRPORT

If you can fly out of Westchester airport, go for it. We just used it for a flight to Miami and though it was a bit more expensive than LaGuardia, it was so incredibly easy and small. We walked less than 500 feet from the airport door to the airplane door. With tons of carry-on bags and little ones to keep track of, it was a lifesaver. You don't get that luxury at LGA.  

Since most flights are smaller and unable to accommodate a lot of rolling luggage, airlines now love it when you gate check. Gate check everything you don't need as soon as you get there. In many cases they'll have you pick it up at baggage claim.  It's like free checked bags! 

Gate check bags for your stroller and car seat are a must. Even if you're not a germaphobe, the amount of filth on the gate check bag (that would have been on our car seat!) was astonishing. Some parents say they store extra stuff in the gate check bags as a way to avoid checking luggage, but we've never attempted this. We have, however, checked a car seat and stroller in separate bags and claimed it was a two-piece travel system (like those infant ones) to avoid paying a separate fee for having two. Remember, your diaper bag doesn't count toward your luggage allowance on most airlines.

 

You're probably bringing a stroller, so take advantage of it by using at as a mini luggage cart. If you can wear your baby and put stuff in the stroller, you'll have an easier time walking through. Just remember that everything including the stroller has to be unloaded to go through security. 

If your stroller gets broken at the gate or in checked luggage, stop at the luggage desk (usually where lost luggage is) and make a claim. They'll hand you a paper form to fill out. We were able to bring ours home and mail it so it didn't add extra time to our trip. They make you jump through hoops (we had to give them a copy of the receipt! We didn't have it because it was a registry gift so we called Buy Buy Baby and they emailed us a PDF). But if you stick with it they will reimburse you. We got our $179 back to buy a new travel base when they broke the handle on ours. 

That was also the first flight we tried out Trunki, a ride-on suitcase for kids. Our 2.5 year old loved it! We didn't end up pulling her through the airport, but it gave her something to do while waiting at the gate. Since she loved to hang on to it and felt responsible for staying with it, it was a bit like having her tethered to her luggage. 

Here's my best airport tip: don't wait at the gate you're assigned. Here's why--if your little one is loud or whiny or annoying, they get to do it for a completely different group of strangers than the ones you have to sit on the plane with. Then when you board with a new group of passengers, it's like you hit the reset button.  

ON THE PLANE

If your baby is under two and you are bringing them as a lap infant, ask at the gate if the flight is full. If it's not, they may let you bring your car seat on and put it in an empty seat next you. I had good luck with this during my baby's first year. 

Consider the plane layout when booking. When we flew with 4 people, instead of booking 4 seats next to each other (both sides of the aisle), we booked one side of rows 3 and 4 and put our toddler in row 4. That way if the she kicks and yells, mommy is in front of her instead of an unforgiving stranger. 

Remember that if you bring your car seat, your toddler has to be booked in a window seat, and if you have two kids in car seats, they need to be in the window and middle. They will stop you from putting a car seat in the aisle seat. You also can't have two lap infants in the same side of the row because there is only one extra oxygen mask per side. 

Bring an extra outfit for them and shirt for you in your carry-on luggage. I once got spit up on right as we started boarding. I was able to change myself and her quickly before we got on the plane.

Dressing them super cute helps to bide them a bit of extra empathy as they tazmanian devil themselves through the flight. I used to put personalized name bibs on my baby for flights. People seemed nicer when they knew her name was not Anonymous Crying Baby. 

If your destination includes driving, it's a good idea to bring your own car seat. I've heard the ones at the rental car agencies can be sketchy at best, and completely unsafe at worst. Evenflow makes a $40 light version that's not super comfortable, but will get the job done. If you're buying a seat for a toddler, you can bring the car seat on the plane (just check that it's FAA approved--most are.) The Car Seat Lady says you can rear face, but the stewardess stopped us when we tried and we didn't feel like pushing the point. If you definitely want to rear face, it might be a good idea to bring printouts of reliable websites that say you can. We suspect stewardesses hate it because the person in front of you can't recline. 

Having your child in the car seat has an added bonus of safety, a familiar and comfortable place for them to settle in, and barriers from the grime of the plane. 

IN THE HOTEL ROOM

If the hotel will be providing a pack n play, chances are they won't have fitted sheets at pack n play size. Rather than fold the twin size flat sheets they'll give you instead, which can move around as they sleep, bring your own fitted pack n play sheets. They'll also smell like home, which may be comforting and help them sleep. 

Once you unpack, put all the toys you brought on the floor together and take a photo. Then when you're leaving it will be easy to see if anything is missing.  

Bring a separate set of baby wipes and a changing pad for the hotel room. It's a hassle to keep taking them out of your diaper bag and guarantees you won't forget them in your room.  

Don't forget a nightlight. Hotel lighting is often too bright to leave on for kids.  

Check to see if the room you're staying in has a dishwasher so you can bring your bottle rack. Washing bottles by hand in a hotel sink is so gross.

A lot of baby-proofing stuff is small and lightweight. Plug covers and doorknob locks can easily be taken with you at little added space and weight.

That's it for this week! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


 

 

 

 

 

It's Carnival Season!

Happy Father's Day, everyone! I hope you had a relaxing day celebrating with the dad in your life. We went to eat hibachi and then cooled off in the backyard kiddie pool. The heat and sun has signaled the beginning of carnival season—my favorite season (behind holiday season, of course). Below is your guide to local carnivals, festivals, and fairs happening this summer.


Yorktown Heights Fireman's Carnival and Parade

Wednesday, June 21 - Sunday June 25, various times

Fireman's Parade: 7pm Wednesday

Carnival: Wednesday 7-11pm , Thursday 6-11pm, Friday 6-11pm, Saturday 12-11pm, Sunday 12-9pm

Parade, food, games and rides for all ages. Free carnival admission and parking. Visit the website for $5 off ride wristbands..

Yorktown Heights Fire Station
1916 Commerce Street
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

Click here for more info.


Palisades Fair

Multiple dates and times, see below

This annual fair takes place at the Palisades Center Mall, and runs on select days from June 23 to July 9. Carnival games, rides, food and entertainment, including Monkeys Riding Dogs, Lance Gifford’s Magic & Illusion Show, a hypnotist show, a lion and tiger show, and more. Visit the website for a half price coupon. Full price admission is $6.

Friday, June 23: 5:00pm - close
Saturday, June 24: 1:00pm - close
Sunday, June 25: 1:00pm - close
Friday, June 30: 5:00pm - close
Saturday, July 1: 1:00pm - close
Sunday, July 2: 1:00pm - close
Monday, July 3: 1:00pm - close
Tuesday, July 4: 1:00pm - close
Friday, July 7: 5:00pm - close
Saturday, July 8: 1:00pm - close
Sunday, July 9: 1:00pm - close

Click here for more info.

Palisades Center Mall
1000 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, NY 10994


American Roots Music Festival

Saturday June 24

11:00am

Enjoy performances by numerous artists, activities for kids, tours, and picnicking. Paid seating is available, or set up on the lawn nearby to hear the performances without the view. Food is available to purchase. Parking is free.

Click here for more info.

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY 10536


African-American Heritage Celebration

Sunday June 25

12:00pm to 7:00pm

Celebrate African American culture at Kensico Dam Plaza. Live music, food, family activities and other vendors. Free.

Click here for info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


White Plains Independence Day Celebration

Friday June 30

6:00pm to 10:00pm

Come to White Plains High School for fireworks and a concert by Bruce Springsteen tribute band Tramps Like Us from 7:30-9:00pm. The Kids Corner is from 6:30-8:30pm and features activities including gemstone mining, animals, an acrobat, and the Frisbee guy.

Click here for more info.

White Plains High School
550 North Street
White Plains, NY 10601


Annual Great American Weekend

Saturday July 1, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday July 2, 10:00 - 5:00 pm

9:00am to 5:00pm

Organized by the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, this event contains 150 craft booths, food, and live entertainment. Admission is free.

Click here for more info.

First Presbyterian Church Park
33 Park Place
Goshen, NY 10924


Music Fest and Fireworks

Monday, July 3

6:00pm to 10:00pm

Live music and fireworks. Concertat 8pm and fireworks at 9:15pm. It is suggested to bring a blanket or chairs. Free admission and parking, but as parking is limited, it is recommended to carpool.

Click here for more info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


Independence Day Fair at the John Jay Homestead

Tuesday, July 4

11:00am to 4:00pm

Games, crafts, music, tours, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Free admission.

Click here for more info.

John Jay Homestead
400 Jay Street
Katonah, NY 10536


Hudson Valley Balloon Festival

Friday July 7 - Sunday July 9

Various times

The annual Hudson Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival featuring family activities and balloon launches will take place on July 7, 8 & 9. Balloons are scheduled to take off at 6 p.m. Tickets are available on the website or at the gate. Children under age 3 are free. Parking is free.

Click here for more info.

Barton Orchards
63 Apple Tree Lane
Poughquag, NY 12570


Pleasantville Music Festival

Saturday, July 8

12:00pm to 9:00pm

Thousands of friends, families and lovers of live, world-class rock, setting out their chairs, blankets and tents, going up to the stage and dancing. Food and drink, a beer and wine garden for the adults, fun activities to keep the kids happy, and a zero-waste program to keep the Earth happy. Plus stuff to buy, charities to learn about, and a warm, positive backyard vibe. Headliners include Blues Traveler and Suzanne Vega. Purchase tickets online in advance for discounts. Free parking at Pace University, with shuttle buses running to Parkway Field. See the website for details.

Click here for more info.

Parkway Field
Village Lane
Pleasantville, NY 10570


Polish Heritage Celebration

Sunday, July 9

12:00pm to 6:00pm

Celebrate Polish culture at Kensico Dam Plaza. Live music, vendors, Polish food, and more. Admission and parking are free.

Click here for more info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


Orange County Fair 2017

Various dates and times, see below

Thursday, July 13: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
Friday, July 14: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
Saturday, July 15: 12:00pm - 11:00pm
Sunday, July 16: 12:00pm - 9:00pm
Thursday, July 20: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
Friday, July 21: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
Saturday, July 22: 12:00pm - 11:00pm
Sunday, July 23: 12:00pm - 9:00pm

This fair dates back 177 years. Games, entertainment, food, and demolition derby. Tickets and discount information available on their website.

Click here for more info.

Orange County Fairgrounds
239 Wisner Avenue
Middletown, NY 10940


SummerFest Kids' DJ Dance Parties

Thursday, July 13
Thursday, July 20
Thursday July 27

6:00pm to 8:00pm

Dance party for ages 5-12 with WPLJ DJ Mike Allen. Top 40 music, a dance-off, and hula hoop contests. Parents are required to stay with their children. At the Cross County Mall on the green. Free admission.

Click here for more info.

Cross County Shopping Center
8000 Mall Walk
Yonkers, NY 10704


Hyde Park Car Show and Street Fair

Sunday, July 16

10:00am to 4:00pm

Annual car show and street fair with music, food, vendors, raffles and more. Rain date of July 23. Free admission

Click here for more info.

Stop & Shop parking lot
Route 9
Hyde Park, NY


Hispanic Heritage Celebration

Sunday July 16

12:00pm to 7:00pm

A day of Hispanic culture at Kensico Dam Plaza. Food, live music, vendors and more. Free admission and parking.

Click here for more info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


Arab-American Heritage Celebration

Sunday, July 23

1:00pm to 7:00pm

Celebrate Arab culture at Ridge Road Park in Hartsdale. Food, live music, vendors and more. Free admission.

Click here for more info.

Ridge Road Park
287 Ridge Road
Hartsdale, NY 10530


Italian Heritage Celebration

Sunday July 23

12:00pm to 7:00pm

Celebrate Italian heritage at Kensico Dam Plaza. Food, live music, activities, and vendors. Free admission and parking.

Click here for more info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


Putnam County Fair

Friday July 28: 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Saturday, July 29: 10:00am - 7:00pm

Sunday, July 30: 10:00am - 5:00pm

Free Admission! Free Parking! Animals, Country Living Auction, Food, Entertainment, Games, Activities, Exhibits, Horse Show, Chicken Barbecue, Master Gardener Plant Sale, Touch a Truck! Rain or shine.

Click here for more info.

Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park
201 Gipsy Trail Road
Carmel, NY 10512


Irish Heritage Celebration

Sunday, July 30

1:00pm to 5:30pm

Celebrate Irish culture at Ridge Road Park in Hartsdale. Food, live music, activities and vendors. Free admission.

Click here for more info.

Ridge Road Park
287 Ridge Road
Hartsdale, NY 10530


Heritage of India Festival

Sunday, August 6

12:30pm to 6:30pm

Celebrate Indian culture. Food, music, vendors and more. Free admission and parking. Rain or shine. 

Click here fore more info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


Ecuadorian Cultural Heritage Celebration

Sunday, August 13

10:00am to 7:00pm

Celebrate Ecuadorian culture at Croton Point Park. Food, live music, vendors and more. Free admission.

Click here for more info.

Croton Point Park
1A Croton Point Avenue
Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520


Corn Festival

Sunday, August 13

12:00pm to 5:00pm

Live music, food and kids’ activities. Free admission.

Click here for more info.

Beacon Riverfront Park
Beacon, NY 12508


Jewish Music & Arts Heritage Festival

Sunday, August 20

12:00pm to 6:00pm

Celebrate Jewish culture at the annual Jewish Music and Arts Festival at Kensico Dam Plaza. Music, food Israeli dancing, activities, vendors and more. Free admission and parking. Rain or shine.

Click here for more info.

Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595


Dutchess County Fair

Tuesday August 22 - Sunday August 27

10:00am-10:00pm

For six days each August, the bucolic fairgrounds on Route 9 in Rhinebeck plays host to nearly half a million patrons. The second largest county fair in New York State is the showplace for agriculture in Dutchess County. Over 147 acres of finely manicured gardens and grass create the beautiful setting for thousands of farm animals, agricultural exhibits and horticultural displays.

The fairgrounds becomes an entertainment destination where big name talent can be enjoyed, “thrill a minute” excitement can be experienced at one of the finest carnivals in the entire country, free shows and attractions can be viewed almost constantly from the time you arrive to the time you leave. The tradition of excellence that has been the Dutchess County Fair for over 170 years offers something for everyone and creates memorable moments that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Rain or shine. Admission: $15; seniors/military: $10; aged 11 and under are free. Discounts available on their website.

Click here for more info.

Dutchess County Fairgrounds
6550 Spring Brook Avenue
Rhinebeck, NY 12572


Know of a carnival that's not on our list? Send us a note! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


Summer Safety Tips

Hi everyone!

So hot today, right? It wavers between too-hot-and-sunny or just-right-and-rainy. Since it's so unpredictable outside, join us inside on Tuesday morning for a Parent and Child Meetup at The Play Place in Elmsford. Come socialize with other parents while your kids enjoy the play structure, infant spot, and sports areas at The Play Place. Our event is from 9am to 11am, and if you arrive before 9:30 it's only $5. Siblings under twelve months are free with paid admission. Click here for more info. 

Since it feels like summer, I'd like to share some info about hot weather and water safety that affects all parents.

THE SUMMER STROLLER MISTAKE

We all know not to leave kids in the car, even for an instant, but there's another risk out there that a lot of mothers practice. Stroller covers are great to protect little ones from the elements, but if you throw a muslin over the whole stroller in the heat, you create a mini sauna where baby is sitting. Parents magazine ran a story about researchers in Sweden who discovered that the temperature inside a stroller without any covering that was left out in the heat was 72 degrees. But after being covered by a thin cloth, it reached 93 degrees within thirty minutes. After an hour, the temp shot up to almost 100 degrees. Shading your babe from the sun is a great idea, but if you are taking them out for a walk, keep the stroller uncovered for maximum air circulation. Use your stroller's sun cover or an infant hat for protection. Or just use a thin blanket on top of their body, not over the entire stroller. 

Read the original article here.

 

THE DROWNING MYTH

Hot weather means water fun, and we all know to be especially careful with children. We are aware that even things like a bucket of water or a small amount in a kiddie pool can be a danger, and we make sure that they don't have unsupervised access to a swimming pool. We keep a close eye on them in public pools and beaches. What a lot of parents don't know is that drowning doesn't look like the scenes portrayed on TV. Typical drowning does not involve shouting, waving arms, and bouncing up and down in the water. The blog ModernMom published an article relaying the warning signs of drowning so parents can stay aware in the water. Parents should look for The Instinctive Drowning Response. Below is a recap from the post:

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.

2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

So if your kids are splashing around, they're probably just having a great time. It's when they are still and upright that we should make sure they're okay.

Read the original article here.

 

DRY AND SECONDARY DROWNING

This is the new panic sweeping the Facebook mom groups. Dry drowning is so rare that I'm hesitant to mention it and spread the fear, but it's helpful for parents to know that not all drowning happens underwater. Since kids don't know to hold their breath around water, they can sometimes breathe it in even when they are not being submerged in it, and because of their size, their airways are more susceptible to damage. There are two types of incidents that can happen. Below is an excerpt from a WebMD article. 

Dry Drowning: With dry drowning, the water children breathe in never even reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes your child's vocal cords to spasm and close up after he's already left the pool, ocean, or lake. That shuts off his airways, making it hard to breathe. Symptoms of dry drowning usually happen right after any incident in the water.

Secondary Drowning:  This happens when your child's airways open up, letting water into his lungs, where it builds up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema which ends up as troubled breathing. Secondary drowning generally starts later, within 1-24 hours of the incident.

Dry drowning and secondary drowning have the same symptoms. They include coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing, and fatigue. They make up only 1-2% of all drowning incidents, so it's not something you should be actively worried about, but keep it in mind if your child is having trouble breathing outside the water.

Read the original article here.

That's it for this week! Stay safe out there! And don't forget to come to our meetup on Tuesday! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea


Our Last-Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide

Hi everyone! You guys are all ready for Father’s Day, right? You began to make your personalized gifts months ago, shipped them economy in May, and wrapped them last weekend? That was me on our first Father’s Day in 2015, but now I’m lucky if I can get my act together the week before. This time I'm bailing you out. I've researched where to get the perfect thing for that great dad in time for his big day. Below are some ideas for gifts you can pull together by Sunday the 18th.

But first, mark your calendars because BabyGotChat is hosting a Parent & Child meetup at The Play Place in Elmsford on Tuesday, June 13 between 9 and 11am. Come anytime, but if you can arrive before 9:30, admission is only $5. Siblings under a year are free with a paid child. If you haven’t been to The Play Place, it’s a fun spot with spaces for infants and toddlers and sports areas that even older kids will like. There are also tables and benches for when you want to take a break. Click here for more details. Hope to see you there!

Now, on to our gift list...

Category 1: Tickets

Maybe it’s too late to snag seats to Hamilton, but here are some next (okay, more like next-next-next) best things:

Rye Playland

Dads ride free on Father’s Day! With $15 admission for everyone else. They are open from noon to 8pm, so let him sleep in and head over for low-key fun. Click here for more info.

Concert Tickets

Here are some events coming up that you can pass off as “For Father’s Day”:

Billy Joel at MSG
Dave Matthews Band at Jones Beach and Holmdel, NJ
Bob Dylan at the Capitol Theatre in Portchester
Neil Diamond at MSG
Grateful Dead tribute band at the Capitol Theatre
Pink Floyd tribute band at the Tarrytown Music Hall
Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater (if you haven’t been, this is a must-do)
Jerry Seinfeld at the Beacon Theatre

Movie Tickets

We now have two luxury movie theaters in Westchester: Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers and iPic Theaters in Dobbs Ferry. Combine dinner and a movie and save on babysitting hours.

 

Category 2: Personalized Gifts

Okay, so you're out of time to make him a personalized board book that you wrote and designed with custom photos of them (which is what I did for my husband on his first Father’s Day), but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get in on some homemade fun.

Walgreens Photo Magnets

The Walgreens on Central Avenue near Ardsley Road prints photo magnets in store for same day pickup. This works out very well if, say, you are on a momcation cruise by yourself and miss the critical week before Mother’s Day to order a gift for Grandma. Check out this and other photo items available to print in store. Click here for more info.

Pottery Painting

Why make him a gift when your LO can do it for you? There are a few places in the area where you can bring your child to get crafty.

Paint Your Own Pottery: Located in the Midway Shopping Center on Central Avenue near Great Play in Scarsdale. Call to confirm hours and pricing. Click here for more info.

Fun Craft: Also on Central Avenue in Scarsdale, they accommodate walk-ins, but call to confirm. Click here for more info.

Plaster Palace: Located in Larchmont, this is another great place to create a masterpiece. They post their hours each week on their website. Click here for more info.

Personalized Books

Putmeinthestory.com is just one of many online companies that will create a personalized story with your child's name and photo. This is a Father's Day present that does double duty as a gift for your kid. It's going to cost you a bit in expedited shipping, but if you act fast it can arrive in time! Click here for more info. 

 

Category 3: Manly Gifts

Sure, these are closer to your typical gift ideas, but clichés exist for a reason, right? 

Shop local

Get him a growler of local beer from one of these watering holes:

Growler’s in Tuckahoe
Broken Bow Brewery in Tuckahoe
Beer Noggin in Bronxville
Craftsman Ale House in Harrison
Peekskill Brewery in Peekskill

Barnes & Noble in Eastchester has a well-curated Father’s Day display table with plenty of options. Or pick out a book from the local authors wall.

The Art of Shaving at the Westchester Mall has fancy shaving notions and lotions.

Rothman's in Scarsdale and their smaller store, Harry, in Bronxville are one of a handful of mens shops still around in the area. Click here for more info.

 

Shop online

You can shop from your couch, but the money you save in time and gas you'll spend on fast shipping. The items below are all available to arrive before Father’s Day.

Team Gear

The Northwest Company has a fun selection of sports-themed bean bags, throw rugs, floor mats for the car, gym bags, and even window panels for his man cave. Not into sports? They also carry Marvel, Star Wars, and other entertainment-themed items.

Diaper Bag For Him

My husband hates holding my Vera Bradley bright purple quilted duffel, and he can’t be the only dad out there made to carry his wife's feminine diaper bag. So how about getting him his own? Skiphop has a version that's cute but rugged. Click here for more info. 

Beer Cap Display Piece

Does he like beer...and a state? Uncommon Goods has a Beer Cap State wall plaque to for him to collect and display his favorite pours on his favorite state. Click here for more info. 

Man Crates

Just what they sound like.... Enjoy a bevvy of items shipped in a wooden crate, because he's too macho for a cardboard box. They have themes like Exotic Meats, Whiskey Appreciation, and even a gift card that comes encased in concrete for him to smash open. Because you're married to a cave man. Click here for more info. 

Etsy

Etsy always has lots of sentimental, fun, and funny gifts. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Papa bear keychain. Customize with birth years.

If You Can Read This Bring Me a Beer socks. Printed on the bottom so everyone knows when his feet are up, he's off duty. 

First Father's Day Onesie. Bottles up! 

 

I hope this list gives you some good ideas! If you still can’t find something he’d like, then pop a $20 in a Snoopy card and call it a day.

That’s it for this week! Don't forget to come to our meetup on June 13! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!

Andrea