Though the Fourth of July has now come and gone, summer time for families across the United States is hardly over. Local festivals, fairs, outdoor parties, and trips to amusement parks still fill the calendar for many families. With a few of these outings over and done with many parents, especially those with little ones, are beginning to realize that some of their equipment has already seen one too many summers, while the rest just wasn't designed for family outings. Fortunately, several manufacturers of baby products have created solutions for almost every problem ranging from "How to feed the baby without packing the highchair" to "Which stroller is best for someone with a 12-month-old and a 3-year-old that likes to walk, but needs a break every few minutes?" When going anywhere with little ones, whether it be to a company or family picnic, or even to the state fair the question that parents always seem to struggle with is: What do we actually need to bring, and what will just take up space? With some space already taken up by car seats, storage room becomes a commodity, even in a large SUV. The Sit'n'Stroll by Tripleplay, combination car seat and stroller, helps free up some real estate in the cargo area. Now there's room for the lawn chairs.
What summertime outing isn't complete without a picnic? Company and large family picnics help relieve some of the stress on these outings by having reserved tables or pavilions. For those families just out on their own, the outing can be more complicated, especially on holidays. Once a parking spot within view of a free picnic table has been procured, now there's the problem of getting to it before the family in the red minivan three spots down does. For this problem it might be wise to invest in the Urban Baby Carrier by Combi.
This pouch, made of lightweight fabric is easy to squeeze in the family car, right between the cooler and the portable grill. Now, getting the baby, the cooler, and the other essentials to the table in one trip (before the red minivan family) is a snap. This should also save a few parents from having to go through the age-old debate of: Which do I get out of the car first, the restless baby or the cooler? Once the table is secured and the burgers and bratwursts are almost ready for consumption it's time to make seating assignments. Again, for parents with multiple young ones, this can be quite the challenge. Naturally, the 3 to 5-year-olds will want to feed themselves and, if left unsupervised, make a ketchup-based casserole of their hotdog and chips.
This dynamic is further frustrated by the infant that requires even more supervision, especially since the highchair probably didn't make the packing list. Not to worry, the Chicco Travel Seat serves as an excellent alternative. This durable-yet stylish seat slides on the end of most picnic-sized tables, folds up flat for easy storage, and comes with its own bag to carry it in. With this piece of equipment the ritual of balancing an infant on one knee while trying to keep the toddlers at the table from overdoing it on the condiments (all while straddling the picnic table bench) is no more. With mealtime out of the way and the children loaded with the protein they'll need to scale the stairs of the slide, it's time to take a shaded position near the playground.
Here you can keep an eye on the younger ones to make sure they don't get pummeled by the bigger kids (or their siblings) while you relax and enjoy the ambiance. This is the ideal setting for the T2 Travel cot by Phil and Teds. Many child pens are often complex and typically aren't travel friendly. Not so with the T2. This particular pen snaps together quickly, has a self-inflating mattress, folds up quite compactly, and only weighs 4 pounds! For those families headed to the local fair, amusement park, or even on a neighborhood walk there's one piece of equipment that, thankfully, has evolved to simplify all of these, and many other situations: the stroller.
From units with lift out car seats to those designed specifically for active parents who like to take the kids along, strollers come in all styles and configurations. For those parents planning to do a lot of traveling, or even just a lot of walking there are a few models that stand out. For those with only one child in need of individual transportation there is the C6 by Chicco.
This model is lightweight, easy to clean and transport, and has a storage basket making it ideal for parents who plan to be on-the-go this summer. For those with twins, or just two smaller children, there is the Combi Twin Savvy EX. This is a side-by-side model that is easy to maneuver, has washable seat cushions, and plenty of storage. For those parents with a Combi Connection Infant Seat, you can put it either seat, leaving the other side open. Finally, there is the Baby Trend Sit'n'Stand.
This particular stroller is versatile, making it a great buy for many types of families. It has the traditional single seat up front, but also comes with a platform situated behind the seat, near the ground. For the family with only one infant the platform is a great place to put the diaper bag (or a jumbo Slushee.) It's also an ideal choice for parents who need move a young toddler and an infant. The stroller accommodates a car seat for use as a double stroller and the platform lets toddlers hitch a ride until their little legs are recharged. The Sit'n'Stand also has a Plus edition with a removable rear seat for when kids need to have a five-point harness.
For those parents who already have these or similar products and are only in need of something to help move it all around there is the GoGo Kidz Travelmate folding cart. This cart has a flat platform that folds up and is great for moving all kinds of gear, and can also be attached to most car seats. Now parents can keep one hand free while moving all their gear around. Now, where does one find these amazing products? Most retailers of baby and children's products carry some of them. Manufacturer Web sites can provide information about dimensions, how to use them, and a where to buy them.
Some products however, are exclusively sold on one Web site, www.strollerdepot.com. This was the only site that sold all of the products mentioned, and most were advertised at, or well below retail price.
The site also provided in-depth information as well as reviews left by people who have purchased these products. And, if you're worried about getting your stroller or other products delivered before you leave on your trip, StrollerDepot.com boasts fast shipping, and on some products shipping is included. Summertime for families should be a time to get out and enjoy time together, and these products are just a few of many that are designed to make traveling with little ones a more enjoyable experience.
Shawn Swensen is a freelance writer and a graduate from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in public relations. Learn more at his Web site: http://www.shawnswensen.com