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Independence Day with Toddlers

I’ll never forget the first Independence Day with our baby.
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She was only half a year old and we stayed at a lake in New Hampshire for four days. The way her eyes lit up when she saw the fireworks was priceless! Traveling with her was fairly easy, she couldn’t run away from us, I knew where she went potty every time, and all she ate was my breast milk.

Now that she is two and a half, it is a different story! Suddenly we have this little human with a mind of her own who likes to wander, explore, and snack incessantly. We are going away for a week and my mind is filled with how to make this trip as smooth as possible. Here are some tips for a happy, healthy toddler when traveling this Independence Day:

Snacks: There is one thing that unifies toddlers, a snack can go a long way in keeping them happy. It seems like the moment their mouths are empty, they are looking for something to do or for trouble. If you’re home, this is fairly easy. If you are traveling, you’ll need a stocked cooler! I don’t know what food will be available where we are going, so I am bringing all the healthy stuff we are used to. This includes a snack cup full of organic whole wheat graham crackers, peeled apple slices, tangerines, blueberries, dried mango, and some cereal.

Lodging: I think the type of lodging you choose for vacation can make or break it. Consider how little flexibility a hotel room offers, it can make a vacation with a toddler a nightmare. Your best bet is browsing Home Away and VRBO to find a vacation home rental. You may be surprised at just how affordable they can be. The price depends on where you are traveling of course. We are driving two hours north to a popular lake destination, so our options were pretty limited. We paired up with our friends who also have kids and split the price – makes for an affordable and fun vacation together. A vacation rental gives you a lot of flexibility where you can cook your own meals (or throw together a sandwich), put kids to sleep in a separate room, fire up the grill, and walk to the beach.

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Entertainment: Thankfully our media free baby doesn’t need DVD players to be entertained. She can be perfectly happy with a book, a doll, or a coloring book with crayons. But aside from a few familiar books and toys you may want to do something special while on vacation. This is a good time to teach kids to swim, take them fishing, and play ball. You can also find nearby attractions ahead of time and plan accordingly. We are hoping to catch a scenic railroad ride since our toddler goes bonkers for trains. It can be as simple as a local ice cream stand or a mini golf park.

Barbecue: What’s Independence Day without barbecues!? It can get complicated with toddlers. Some just need a word to explain that the grill is hot and they shouldn’t touch it, others may need to actually touch it to understand that it is hot. To avoid accidents, make a play area for kids far enough away from the grill where they can have a variety of toys and some non-messy snacks that they can help themselves with. If they are busy they are less likely to hover around the grill. Have a low table or chairs with bowls of apple slices, cereal, tangerine slices, baby carrots, and crackers. Some apple juice boxes will keep them hydrated or just bottles of water (avoid the berry juice that stains clothing).

Fireworks: Some kids light up when they see fireworks, some may actually get scared. If you have young toddlers you may want to prepare them for it and talk to them about the fireworks the day you will see them. You can even show them a little video so that they know what to expect. When the fireworks start you can hold them until they get comfortable with what they see.

Hope this helps make Independence Day with toddlers smoother and if you have more ideas and experience, please share!

Image: tungphoto /


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