Vacation Packing Tips for Toddlers | Includes free family packing list!

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I’m going to be honest with you: I LOVE making lists. For holidays, planning, vacations, short trips, long trips, you name it. If it is a list, I’ve probably made it.

Lucky for you, I’m going to be sharing some of my most used lists in my arsenal: Road Trip Packing List for Toddlers (and Parents!). We’ve gone on a number of road trips with our son in the last two years. Before he was born, my husband and I traveled even more, whether it was flying or driving.

While there are lots of packing lists out there, I err on the side of being extra prepared. And even being extra prepared, I’ve still made lots of mistakes. Worst mistake? One trip, I managed to bring our son’s video monitor… but not the actual camera to put in his room so we could see him.

Hopefully these lists will help packing for your trip a little easier! I’ve listed a good chunk of what we pack for kiddo below.

As a bonus, you can download the full five-page printable packing checklists for toddlers and parents for free by clicking here!

Also, check out my best tips for going on a road trip with a toddler here!

 

Favorite items to make traveling easier with toddlers

Packing list for the car or plane

  • Lovey or favorite stuffed animal
  • Blanket and/or pillow
  • Extra set (or two) of clothing
  • Diapers, wipes and changing pad
  • Diaper cream like Resinol or Travel-Size Aquaphor
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Kids’ reusable water bottle or sippy cup
  • Amazon Kindle Fire for Kids
    • Charger for Kindle Fire
    • Pro Tip: Download any apps, videos, music or books for offline use before you leave home!
  • Coloring books (Magic ink books are amazing!)
  • Gel clings for windows
  • Favorite healthy snacks
  • Special food treats they may not normally get
  • These cloth diapers: We use them as burp cloths and to clean up any spills or messes!
  • A few of your child’s favorite and new toys (great to grab at the dollar store!)

Packing list for toddler’s suitcase

General items

  • Baby monitor (camera and video monitor, plus chargers and accessories)
  • Small first aid kit
    • Children’s pain relievers
    • Allergy medicine
    • Cough relief medicine
    • Thermometer
    • Nasal aspirator
    • Nail clippers
    • Bandages
    • Itch or allergy cream
    • Sunscreen
    • Aloe
  • Baby proofing items
    • Outlet plugs
    • Door knob covers
    • Painter’s tape for outlet covers and to secure blinds cords
  • Portable white noise machine
  • Bed: Pack ‘n Play, toddler travel bed or bed rails
  • Bedding: Pillow, fitted sheet, blanket
  • Nightlight
  • Portable high chair
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Body wash and shampoo
  • Washcloth and towel
  • Extra diapers and wipes
  • Any feeding items
    • Sippy cups, utensils, bowls, plates, snack cups
  • Travel play mat for gross hotel or AirBnB floors, plus extra toys

Clothing

  • One outfit per day, plus one extra outfit for every two days of your trip
  • Two pajamas for every 3-5 days (Always bring an spare set!)
  • One pair of socks per day, plus 1-3 extra pairs
  • Bibs
  • Two to four pairs of shoes, depending on trip location/activities
  • Sweater
  • Rain jacket
  • Coat and mittens, depending on location
  • Swimsuit or swim diaper(s)

Now that you have your toddler’s bag packed, let’s pack yours! I’ve created a comprehensive, five-page packing list for every member of the family exclusively for you.

Click here to snag the interactive printable.

Favorite Kitchen Tools for Parents

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

The best kitchen tools for new parents

Kitchen gadgets to get you through the first three years

The Best Kitchen Tools for New Parents - Top Kitchen Registry Picks

Registering for baby gifts is hard, right? Knowing which products really work, which ones may break or even which ones will end up in a cabinet, never to be used. Not to mention the sheer number of items there are out there.

Here I’m laying out all the best kitchen tools to get you through the first three years of being a parent, from newborn to three year olds! You’ll find my favorite tools for both parents to use and a few bonus tools that your child can use once they’re a toddler.

Looking for more of my favorite kitchen gadgets and tools? This is the first in a series of my favorites for use for meal prep and beyond! I’ll be linking the rest of the posts as they come out here. So come back soon!

P.S., scroll to the bottom of this post for a super easy recap and links to each item!

Kitchen tools for the first year

Ah, new parenthood. Full of limitless time and resources. Ha! Just kidding. It’s a time of pure chaos, between endless feedings, adjusting to the new normal as parents, and everything in between. From bottle warmers the first few months to baby food makers and storage, here are my favorite baby kitchen tools.

Bottle warmers

There are SO many options for bottle warmers today. Some are relatively low-tech, while others even have digital displays, timers, and other clever functions.

Personally, I exclusively breastfed and had high lipase, so we didn’t freeze and reheat breastmilk; however, I would often pump and store in the fridge for others to feed my kiddo when he was a newborn.

Dr Browns Bottle Warmer - Best Kitchen Tools for New ParentsSince we didn’t use our bottle warmer every day, we went with a more basic model like this from Munchkin.

So far, it has lasted four years – we used it when I would babysit my niece, too! – and shows no signs of stopping. It comes with a few accessories to make things easier depending on the size of the bottle. Also, it’s currently on sale for under $20 on Amazon, it’s hard to beat!

This bottle warmer from Dr. Brown’s is a more advanced and high-tech bottle warmer and is amazing. It has an LCD display, one-touch start, and will remember your favorite warming settings. A bonus is you don’t have to fill up this warmer after every single use.

Baby food makers + Storage

While I would love to link several different brands of baby food makers, I was so incredibly impressed with my Beaba Babycook, I can’t recommend anything else.

This baby food maker does it all: Steams, purees, defrosts, and reheats. All in less than 15 minutes! And all of the pieces besides the base are dishwasher safe, so cleanup is always a breeze.

From when my son started purees until he could chew more solid food, I used this several times a week. I would prep several frozen fruits, veggies and even meats at a time to freeze and use later.

In the beginning, I would use the full steam and puree functions, but as he got a little older, I used the steam or defrost/reheat functions for small pieces of food.

The Beaba Babycook comes in two versions: A 4.7 ounce container (in on-trend rose gold and other colors!) and a 5.5 ounce glass container version, which comes in chic colors like midnight blue with gold accents, silver, turquoise, and matte black.Beaba Baby Food Maker - Best Kitchen Tools for New Parents

When I finished making his baby food, I used these handy storage containers from OXO. They’re the perfect serving size and freezable, too!

Baby food tips

Pick up these silicone freezer storage containers and once they’re frozen, you can pop the servings into a resealable bag for even easier storage!

Bonus tip: Make puree prep a snap, I recommend buying pre-chopped, frozen vegetables. They’re frozen at their peak freshness and all you have to do is pour the bag into your baby food maker!

Or, if you prefer fresh produce, pick up one of these handy produce choppers from Mueller. With its multiple attachments, you can chop fresh produce in seconds that’s the perfect size to place into your baby food maker! It’s also one of my FAVORITE kitchen tools for parents with arthritis!

Kitchen tools for the toddler age

Everything changes when your kids start eating real food with minimal prep; however, that doesn’t mean you don’t need special tools to help make their meals easier!

Chopping and dicing kitchen tools

The key, especially once children transition into solid foods, is cutting and chopping foods into manageable sizes to reduce choking hazards.

One of my first favorite tools in this transition period was a pair or three of these kid-friendly kitchen shears. Kitchen Shears for Babies and Toddlers - Best Kitchen Tools for New ParentsThey’re smaller than your typical shears, but just as powerful. Be sure to keep these out of reach of children. These kitchen scissors are great for cutting smaller fruits and even larger foods like pizza!

Next, if you’re old school and prefer a knife and cutting board, these cutting boards are my favorite. They’re lightweight, dishwasher-friendly, and don’t get food stuck or stained after they’ve been cleaned. Plus, the color-coding is a handy plus and helps older toddlers with color recognition!

Lastly, in terms of food prep, the Mueller vegetable chopper is my absolute favorite. Especially great for folks with arthritis, as you simply pull the handle down and boom, diced food in mere seconds.

This chopper is great for fruits and vegetables, whether they’re raw like blueberries and grapes, or lightly cooked like carrots. Just be careful with foods that are super soft!

Another kitchen tool I absolutely love are these fun “cookie” cutters. They can be used on ALL sorts of foods. Toddler Cookie Cutters for fruit, vegetables and other foods for picky eaters and mealtime engagement brendadalton.com

Toddlers can be a little… picky at times, but using these shapes to cut their food into makes 1) food prep engaging and 2) kids more willing to try new foods.

Without fail, my toddler is almost always willing to eat foods he wouldn’t normally eat, like cheese, certain fruits and vegetables, when we prep together and I let him cut the food into fun shapes like hearts, bears, and stars.

Engaging toddlers in the kitchen

Engage your child in food preparation once they’re able to stand and follow directions. Well, as much as a toddler will follow directions.

One of my favorite kitchen items I have ever bought has nothing to do with food. Crazy, right?Kitchen Tower Stool for Toddlers - Best Kitchen Tools for Toddler Parents

It’s this kitchen tower. Oh, I love it. It was my son’s “big” birthday gift when he turned two. He likely would have loved this about 20 months and older, too.

The kids’ kitchen tower keeps them safe (with supervision), engages them in the cooking process, and by doing so, makes them more willing to try out new foods. We bring the tower up to our kitchen island and to let my son bring a few small toys to play with while I prepare food.

There are a few versions of kitchen towers out there, but this one from Guidecraft had more features we were looking for, including a few more safety aspects.

P.S., if you’re visiting and haven’t created your baby registry yet, you can create a registry through my link and receive a free baby box filled with lots of goodies after your first $35 is purchased through your registry! If you’re past the baby registry phase, click here to get a free one-month trial of Amazon Prime on me! Ahem, free two-day shipping, anyone?

I’d love to hear some of your favorite kitchen gadgets you use with your babies and toddlers to make life a little bit easier. Leave me a comment below or let’s chat on Instagram!

Easy Links to Favorite Kitchen Tools!

The Ultimate Guide to Infusions From a Patient Perspective

The Ultimate Guide to Biologic Infusions: A Patient Perspective

A checklist of what to bring, what to expect and how to recover!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

As someone with a chronic illness (Psoriatic Arthritis, to be exact!), I go into my rheumatologist’s office every eight weeks for my biologic infusion. I feel no shame in calling it my “go-go juice” because within 24-72 hours, I am a brand new person.

It has been about ten months since I starting my infusions – Remicade – and it has been the first medicine that has truly made me start to feel like a normal person since I started having joint pain six years ago.

When I first started my infusions, I scoured the internet – and even Pinterest and social media – for tips on how to prepare for my infusion. I came across a blog or two, but overall, the internet kinda let me down. Now, six or seven infusions later, I have my routine down and I’m ready to share it with you!

Typically, my infusion appointment lasts about three hours. Sometimes longer, sometimes faster, depending on my wait time, how busy they are and how happy my veins are to be poked that day. Some medications can be infused as fast as 15-20 minutes, while others can be four or more hours.

I’ll note here that every infusion center and doctor’s office runs things differently! Below is my experience and my advice based only on my experience. And a quick reminder: This is not medical advice nor does it intend to be.

Preparing for infusions

The night before, I shower – washing my hair and all. It makes things a little easier because my infusion appointments are first thing in the morning, so it is one less thing to worry about.

Next, I pack my bag. I typically take a tote bag and fill it with my favorites:

The big thing I’ve realized during my infusions is I absolutely need a snack. I forgot a snack twice and became really nauseated about halfway through. Unfortunately, at my doctor’s office, they only have snacks with gluten (surprising, I know!!), so I was completely out of luck that day. Bring a snack is my absolute biggest tip!

Another big tip for the day before your infusion: DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Think you’re great at keeping up with your water? Cool, drink even more than that! It will help your cute little veins when they’re getting your IV set up and personally, I’ve found the more hydrated I am, the easier recovery will be.

The day of infusions

What to wear to your infusion

My second biggest tip on infusions is to dress comfortably, especially if your infusion lasts more than 30 minutes!

In the warmer months, I typically wear a maxi dress like this one, along with a chunky, oversized sweater. Emphasis on oversized! They have looser sleeves which makes it easier to roll up while they insert the IV, then you can roll it back down to stay warm and comfy.

If it’s in the cooler months, I’ll wear some comfortable, looser (boot cut) exercise pants and a sweater I can easily roll the sleeves up.

I made the mistake of wearing tight, comfortable yoga pants/leggings to an infusion once.

Why didn’t yoga pants work? Because of the fluids they pump through you during your infusion, you’ll likely need to make a restroom stop at least once. Depending on where in your arm or hand your IV ends up, you sometimes end up one-handed. Have you ever tried to use one hand to take tight-fitting yoga pants off? Oof. Oof!

If you can manage fitted yoga pants one-handed, then by all means, GO FOR IT. Here’s a link to my favorite pair!

What to do before your infusion appointment

Eat a hearty breakfast or lunch, depending on your appointment time. Whatever fills you up and keeps you full is great.

Think protein and complex carbs. Oatmeal, breakfast sandwich, protein bar… whatever floats your boat and keeps you going. Even if you don’t eat breakfast (like me, due to intermittent fasting), this is your one day you should be eating breakfast.

Check in before you get to the office, if possible. My doctor’s office has moved to online check-ins.

Typically, I receive an email before my appointment to check-in, go over my health, pay co-pays, verify insurance, etc.

If I’m not able to check in online before, I check in on my phone when I arrive. That way, I don’t have to touch any other objects anyone else may have touched – keeping it clean!

At your infusion appointment

My most recent infusion was my first in a post-COVID world. It wasn’t too different besides the COVID screenings in the parking lot and buildings, plus requirements like a face mask, taking temperature and so on. Every other chair was blocked off to maintain social distance.

Once I arrive at my appointment at my rheumatologist’s office and I’m checked in, they bring me back and ask a few questions:

  • Have you had any recent infections?
  • Have you been on any antibiotics?
  • Have you had any recent surgeries?
  • How are you feeling today?

I’m weighed by my infusion nurse, since my medication is dosed based on my weight. Blood pressure, pulse, temperature, all vitals are taken after that.

At my doctor’s office, you’ll be placed in a private room if you’re seeing the doctor that day. If not, we get an option between the TV room or the “quiet room” which is shared with other patients. This varies depending on the location and your office’s preferences.

Most of the time during my infusions, I’m either working on my laptop, scrolling Pinterest, or watching a TV show or movie. As a mom, I kind of look forward to my infusions because I can sit back, relax, and sit quietly for a few hours when I’m not 100% exhausted at the end of the day!

During my infusion, I make sure to eat a few small snacks and stay hydrated. I find that when I’m able to drink lots of water during my appointment, I recover a lot faster.

After your appointment

Depending on what other medications you’re given during your appointment, you may drive home or have someone drive you. I’m incredibly lucky in that my husband often takes a half-day on my infusion days, so he’s home to hang out with our toddler while I nap, take it easy, and rest in bed.

Sometimes I feel okay after my appointment, and I will continue to work on my laptop in bed. I’ve found that even when I do that and I don’t truly rest, my recovery takes longer.

When I chill, watch some Netflix, eat a healthy snack or two, drink lots of water after my appointment, I’m able to feel a lot better the next day. When I don’t take it as easy, I don’t truly feel back to normal until about 30 hours after my appointment or two days later.

It’s different for everyone! Once you start having infusions, you’ll find what works for you.

My best advice is to take it super easy at first, then build up what you’re able to do after each infusion.

Good luck! And shoot me an email, find me on Instagram, or comment below with any questions you may have about infusions!

The Best Comfortable Shoes for Moms

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.


The Most Comfortable Shoes for Moms. Check out the best sneakers, casual shoes and heels for moms. Great shoe options for chronic illness and arthritis.

Isn’t it funny how once you become a mom, all of those super tall, gorgeous (and expensive) heels start collecting dust? Motherhood has a funny way of ushering in the era of comfortable footwear, especially during those baby and toddler years.

It’s just not logical to be chasing your kiddo full speed in a pair of heels or tall wedges, right? They’re great for date night, deadly for everyday.

As a mom with arthritis, you can bet I know what’s what when it comes to comfortable footwear. Here you’ll find my absolute favorite shoes that will last you all day from school drop off and the playground to grabbing a bite to eat and running errands – everything from comfy sandals to fashionable sneakers.

Vionic sandals

Vionic is my go-to brand since the moment I started dealing with foot and ankle pain years and years ago. I started with a pair of their supportive flip flops, which last forever, and have built my collection from there! Vionic offers such a wide variety of styles and everything from wedges and heels to boots and sneakers.

My current favorite for this spring and summer is one of their newer styles, the Vionic Roni Slide. It’s a super on-trend style with great arch support, luxe suede and leather, and a feminine touch with the ruffles up top. They come in three colors which are all great neutral pieces to go with everything in your summer wardrobe.

My go-to for the summer is the Vionic Tide Flip Flop. They are so incredibly supportive, especially for high arches, and come in dozens of colors and styles – leather, sequins, suede and more. And with an average rating of 4.5/5 from more than 2,200 ratings, it is definitely a crowd favorite. Fun fact: I even slipped into a gold sequin pair of Tides for my wedding reception so I could dance the night away in comfort!

Adidas Grand Court Sneakers

Does it get any more classic than this pair of Adidas? Not only are the Grand Courts so comfortable – wear all day comfy! – they go with just about everything. Pick up a few different pairs with more than a dozen color options.

They help put a fun, playful spin on dresses and skirts, a perfect pairing for jeans and a tee and of course, a great companion to leggings and yoga pants. Win, win, win. Not to say I was an early adopter, but I definitely had a pair with turquoise stripes in the early 2000s!

P.S. right now some colors are HALF off! Save up to $32.50 right now through Amazon! (4/22/2020)

Nike Running Shoes

If I had one shoe that I absolutely wear the soles out, my pair of black Nike Tanjun running shoes would be it. Comfortable, easy on and off and go with everything under the sun for those active days with kids. These babies have been to the zoo, aquarium, doctors’ appointments, preschool, the beach… you name it, they’ve been there.

These shoes are so incredibly flexible and can complement all your cute workout and casual outfits with more than two dozen different colors!

Keds Charter Sneaker + Sperry Lounge Away Sneaker

My Keds and Sperrys are two peas in an adorable little pod. They’re comfortable, a bit more stylish than your average mom shoe and fit just about everything in your everyday closet.

These two shoes are similar in style and always in my travel bag, too! I highly, highly recommend either pair of these slip on shoes for plane travel. Wear a pair of no-show socks, slip ’em off at security and they slide back on in seconds. Great for sightseeing, too, if you’re not into wearing obvious tennis shoes while exploring tourist attractions.

BOC wedges + Naturalizer Heels

Most of the shoes on this list are definite casual wear, so I figured I’d throw in some dressier pieces! Two of my favorite brands for heels and wedges are BOC and Naturalizer. They offer cushioned soles and great support, along with heel heights that aren’t too tall to chase littles at special events. Two of my favorites are Naturalizer’s Fawn heels and BOC’s Schirra wedge. When looking for heels for special events, I recommend going with a thicker heel. They help distribute your weight a little better than thin heels, which means better balance and comfort.

Shop my picks for the most comfortable shoes below!

Tell me: What are your go-to comfort shoes for chasing littles around?