Uncanny Kids


It’s frustrating when you have a reluctant reader at home. Reading is a gateway to learning, and it can help with both mental and emotional development. If you’re one of the many with a young man who’s reluctant to turn pages, you need to discover the best books for 10 year old boys.

The books listed below are time-tested to inspire young men to engage in reading. If your son (or any 10 year old in your life) has professed to “hate reading” and refuses to even start a book, put one of these options in his hand.

You can find lists (of 100-plus titles) with recommendations for the best books for 10 year olds. And those lists are filled with great options. This list isn’t nearly that long, and it’s meant to include only the best of the best. But, once you get your 10 year old boy reading, search for some of those longer lists — and use those titles to KEEP him reading.


1. Billy Rainwater and the Golden Grapefruit — Best Overall

Books for 10 year old boys come in all shapes, sizes and genres. But your best option is likely an adventure — and you find a great one in “Billy Rainwater and the Golden Grapefruit (Seven Extraordinary Days That Saved One Dying Town.”

“Billy Rainwater and the Golden Grapefruit” is an extraordinary, page-turning adventure that unfolds in modern-day West Texas. In a dying town, a boy who happens to be the last of his people tries to escape to a better life — but instead finds himself drawn underground with three unlikely companions.

Billy and his new friends face fantastical beasts and challenges, and, ultimately, Billy gives up what he wants most of all so that his hometown can be saved.

This story is one of hope and desperation, and each chapter is replete with themes of redemption, diversity, privilege and social justice. Even the most reluctant of readers will find themselves captivated by the fast-paced narrative and short chapters that keep you muttering, “I’ll read just one more …”


2. Holes — Best Mystery

This is one of those books you wish you could read all over for the first time. “Holes” starts out as the tragic story of Stanley Yelnats, who is sent to a camp/prison for a crime he did not commit. There, he makes both friends and enemies.

And then the story takes an unexpected turn. In the end, Stanley exonerates himself and completely changes the cursed luck of his entire family. Like “Billy Rainwater and the Golden Grapefruit,” this book is a page-turner with short, fast chapters.


3. Hatchet — Best Outdoors Adventure

A modern-day classic, “Hatchet” is the story of a young man who must survive on his own after a plane crash leaves him stranded for weeks in the Canadian wilderness. His only real asset is a hatchet his mother had given him before his journey started.

For the 10 year old boy who loves the outdoors, this book will be the gift he’s always wanted. This is another book that begins a series of novels — though this first installment is head-and-shoulders better than the subsequent ones.


4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — Best Classic

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is one of the greatest works of fiction in history, for children or otherwise. The four Pevensie children move to a large house in the country as the Germans blitz London during World War II. By happenstance, they enter a wardrobe in one of the home’s spare rooms, and that wardrobe serves as a portal to Narnia — a different world where the children are royalty.

It’s hard to put into words just how stirring this beloved story is. Put it into the hands of a 10 year old boy, and that child will discover just how much he loves reading.


5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Best Fantasy

OK, so adding Harry Potter to the list is a little bit obvious. Of course any Harry Potter book would be a great fit for a 10 year old boy, but there’s a good reason for that. This series of books has delighted millions of all ages — 10 year old boys included. And, if you’re looking for a book that will engage a young man, this is a great place to start.

Also, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is just the first in a series of books. So, if the 10 year old in your life wants to read more, there’s a lot more to churn through.


6. Wonder — Best Empathy Builder

“Wonder” tells the story of Augie, a young man with a face that many think of as “deformed.” This book shares first-person perspectives on what it likes to be different and what it’s like to be a sibling or friend to someone who is considered different.

This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and it should be required reading for kids as they go through elementary school. Unfortunately, kids have a unique ability to be cruel to one another, but this book can help develop the empathy needed to curb that cruelty.


7. The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes — Best Comic Book

Let’s get something straight: Reading comic books is still reading. There’s vicious conventional wisdom that comic books are cheating — that they aren’t real reading. But they are.

And “The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes” is perhaps the best collection of comics you can find. If you have a truly reluctant 10 year old reader on your hands, this treasury will get him turning pages in no time. And, best of all, there are lots of other comic books to explore after this one — those featuring Calvin and Hobbes, as well as plenty of others.


Final Thoughts on the Best Books for 10 Year Old Boys

Here’s one more resource as you search for the best books for 10 year old boys: the list of Newbery Medal and Honor Books. Since 1922, the American Library Association has recognized the very best in fiction for children by awarding the Newbery Medal and giving Honor Book status to others each year.

Some of the titles listed above won the Newbery Medal or earned Honor Book status. The committee doesn’t always get it right, but they do a great job of picking out any given year’s best fiction.

What books does your 10 year old love? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always send us a direct message.

Raising little kids is tough. The hardest part is the day-after-day humdrum of waking, feeding, playing, napping, playing some more, bathing, bedding and so on and so forth. We all need to get out of the house from time to time, which is why many young parents are interested in the best family vacations with toddlers.

Traveling with toddlers is a little different than, say, a honeymoon. You need to find a destination that offers lots of kid-friendly things to do, as well as stuff that the parents can have fun doing, too.

The good news: You have SO many options. Read on to see 17 great options when you’re searching for the best family vacations with toddlers.

Hey, we don’t all have money to fly a family of four to Hawaii’s Big Island, right? That’s why this list is lengthy and comprehensive. You should be able to find at least one destination that is in your region (so that it’s drive-able), and these various options for best family vacations with toddlers also represent a wide range of price points. In short, there should be something for everyone!


The 17 Best Family Vacations With Toddlers

Did we say there’s something for everyone on this list? Find out for yourself when you browse the following 17 best family vacations with toddlers. They are all located in the United States, and there should be at least one that is driving distance from your home.

1. Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island is the southernmost barrier island along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. If you’re looking for the classic Florida beach experience with toddlers, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Not only does Sanibel Island offer beautiful beaches filled with seashells, it’s also nearby a wildlife refuge, botanical gardens, museums, a historical village and much more. There’s so much for anyone to do here — but families with toddlers will find no shortage of ways to pass the days.

2. Port Aransas, Texas

Texas beaches can’t compare to what you’ll find in California or Florida, but they put forth a valiant and budget-minded effort to deliver value to families with toddlers. And Port Aransas is the best among the few Texas beach options.

You can find budget-friendly lodging in Port Aransas, and you’re also just across the causeway from Corpus Christi, where you can take your kids to the aquarium, to a Texas League baseball game, or to visit the USS Lexington.

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

You can have a blast with toddlers in any major American city, and Philadelphia certainly fits the bill. This city of history (and brotherly love) is filled with fun excursions for the young and the young at heart.

Check out the Philadelphia zoo, take in the city from the One Liberty Observation Deck and travel to Doylestown to play inside an eight-story castle-themed playground. What could be more fun than that?

4. Crested Butte, Colorado

People think of a Colorado vacation, and the first thing that pops into their minds is a snow-covered mountain with skiers streaking down. But summertime in Colorado is one of the best-kept secrets in the country — and Crested Butte is foremost among summertime destinations in the Centennial State.

You’ll find plentiful trails and parks in and around Crested Butte. You can take the ski lift to the top of the mountain for incredible views (and great photo opportunities). And Elk Avenue is lined with great shops, restaurants and other establishments that you and the kids will love.

5. Durham, New York

Ah, the Catskills, a classic American vacation destination. Durham (and the Catskills in general) remains a great place to travel, and that’s especially true if you have young children.

Everything from Catskills Creek to the Zoom Flume Water Park offers action-packed adventure for people of all ages. But perhaps the best parts of visiting Durham are the view of the Catskills Mountains and the fresh air that you just won’t find in the city.

6. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit owns a terrible and terribly undeserved reputation. But this American gem of a city is a great place to travel with kids of all ages. You can visit the world-class Henry Ford Museum and the Ford Rogue Factory. Spend a day at Belle Isle Park, or take in a Tigers baseball game on a picture-perfect summer evening.

7. Carlsbad, California

Carlsbad seems like a random entry on this list at first glance. But Carlsbad, located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, is home to LEGOLAND. And what kid won’t go nuts for LEGOLAND?

But toddlers have a hard time engaging with theme parks sometimes. After all, they aren’t exactly playing with Legos, right? But Carlsbad also gives you access to beaches, to the San Diego Zoo, to Disneyland, to Major League baseball games and other professional sports, to museums and much more. In fact, Carlsbad can give you the chance to spend full days in both Los Angeles and San Diego, which offer a wealth of toddler-friendly activities.

8. Port Angeles, Washington

Port Angeles sits just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria, Canada, and it offers one of the most nature- and wildlife-friendly experiences you can imagine. Not only is Port Angeles stunningly beautiful, it’s also a place where toddlers can join you for a light hike to a waterfall, visit a marine life center, and feed elk at the Olympic Game Farm.

If you live somewhere that’s hot in the summertime, plan a trip to Port Angeles, Washington, where you can breathe in fresh air, enjoy some cooler temperatures and see some of the most beautiful sights you can imagine.

9. Cruises

Cruise ships are resorts on water. There are some that are designed for anyone, and there are others that are designed specifically for kids. You can take cruises out of California, Florida, Texas and other states across the country. Find a cruise that strikes your fancy, and get out on the ocean for a few days. There will be plenty to do with your toddler.

10. National Parks

The United States is home to 58 national parks. They are spread all over the country, so there’s always one that is within driving distance. And they are destinations built for families — even those with toddlers. You may not live close to the big names like Yosemite or Yellowstone, but there’s a national park near you — and it’s worth the trip, even with a toddler.

11. Disney World

Disney’s got this entertainment thing down to a science, even if your kids are too little to remember visiting one of the company’s theme parks. Visit Disney World in Florida (or Disneyland in California for that matter), and you’ll have a blast along with your toddler.

12. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga is enjoying a bit of a moment. This once obscure town along the Tennessee-Georgia border is home to nature- and toddler-friendly activities. When you visit Chattanooga, you get a beautiful setting as well as great places to visit with kids, such as: the Tennessee Aquarium, Coolidge Park, Rock City Gardens, the Incline Railway, the Creative Discovery Museum, Ruby Falls and much more.

13. Washington, DC

Our nation’s capital gets a bad rap, too, mostly because of the politicians who work there. But there’s lots of kid-friendly stuff to do in and around Washington, DC. Try the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Glen Echo Park, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the International Spy Museum and more. You can spend days and not get to everything kid-friendly in The District.

14. San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo, a world-class zoo, theme parks, caverns, a kid-friendly JW Marriott and much more. San Antonio may be one of the most underrated toddler-friendly destinations you can imagine. One of the best parts about visiting San Antonio is that it offers warm weather throughout most of the year. For example: Looking for a great, non-crowded spring break destination? Book a trip to San Antonio.

15. Hawaii’s Big Island

Hawaii is hard to get to. We all know that. But, if you can make it to Hawaii’s Big Island, there are many things to do with your toddler. First, there are miles of amazing beaches. You can also attend a luau, take a helicopter ride, enjoy a snow cone and much more.

As noted above, this is not the most budget-friendly option on the list. But it’s something to dream about if you want paradise in an escape with your toddler.

16. Traverse City, Michigan

If you’ve ever taken a toddler to the beach, you know that one mouthful of seawater can ruin the day. That’s not a problem when you choose a beach destination on one of the Great Lakes — like Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City offers a laid-back feel, a beach to enjoy, museums to visit and other diversions. It’s also driving distance for many in the rust belt or Midwest.

17. Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Chincoteague Island is along the Delmarva Peninsula, and it’s home to wild horses. Sounds like fun, huh? It’s also a place where you can enjoy the beach, search for crabs, devour homemade ice cream and much more. This is a great option for families with toddlers that are looking for a low-stress getaway.


Final Thoughts on Best Family Vacations With Toddlers

The best thing to do when searching for the best family vacations with toddlers: Keep your expectations low. Toddlers are a lot of work. They are moody. They go from having a ball to having a fit in no time flat.

So choose a vacation destination where you can manage those challenges. If you go in with low expectations, any one of the vacation destinations listed above can delight and provide the experience you’re looking for.

Do you have a different toddler-friendly vacation destination to recommend? Let us know in the comments section, or send us a message.

Weekday mornings are hectic from August until June. You have to get your children ready while also making yourself look presentable for the day. And you have to feed them, too, which is the real challenge.

Running through the donut shop drive-through isn’t an option, because you want to make a healthy breakfast for kids before school. But traditional healthy options can get boring over time.

Looking for some fresh and fun healthy breakfast ideas for kids before school? Here’s a look at 5 things you can try.

This piece focuses on fast AND healthy options. We’re talking 5 minutes of preparation or less. Yes, you can come up with a lot more breakfast ideas for busy mornings if you want to spend 20 minutes in preparation. But 20 minutes are hard to come by with kids.


Try These Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

So, without further adieu, here’s a look at 5 ideas for a healthy breakfast for kids before school. Not all kids like all things, so not every one of these items will be a slam dunk. But hopefully at least one works for you and your brood.


1. Bananas & Granola

Bananas are healthy, and so too is granola. But, when served alone, a banana or some granola will fail to get your kids excited.

So try popping a banana on a popsicle stick, then spread some granola over a small plate. Your child can simply press the banana onto the granola, and the granola will stick to the banana. And, trust me, eating a banana covered in granola is a lot tastier and a lot more fun than eating a banana alone.

There’s little preparation. Plus, best of all, it’s hard for kids to make too much of a mess with this easy breakfast.

2. Cereal & Yogurt Parfait

Cereal and yogurt are often go-tos when parents need quick and easy breakfast ideas. But try blending the two together in an effort to create something your kids will actually eat and enjoy.

Start by choosing a healthy cereal (Cheerios or something similar). In a tall glass, place a layer of Cheerios at the bottom, top with a layer of yogurt, add another layer of Cheerios and then a final layer of yogurt.

And here’s a final flourish you can try: Place a honey floater on the very top. You could also add some fresh fruit on top — if fruit will make your child more likely to eat. Hand your kid a spoon, and he or she will gobble it up in no time.

Again, most breakfast recipes you find will take a lot longer to prepare. Something like this is ideal when time in the morning is limited.

3. Banana & Nutella Taco

Here’s a fun one: Spread Nutella across a flour tortilla, wrap a banana inside and serve to your child. It’s going to look a little like a breakfast burrito. Or, if you slice the burrito, it can look a little like sushi.

Kids love Nutella, and it can be a magical addition to the menu that makes for an easy breakfast and a less stressful school morning.

4. Microwave Omelet

Who has time for scrambled eggs on a school morning? Instead, try making a microwave omelet.

How does it work? Grab some turkey or ham, cheese, and a couple of eggs. You can also slice up some red pepper or another veggie — basically anything that would go into a traditional omelet.

Now, toss it all into a mug, stir and microwave. In no time, you’ll have a ready-to-eat breakfast that your kids can even take in the car for the ride to school. The greatest challenge with choosing this option from among quick and easy breakfast recipes is that it may take a while for the mug to cool down.

5. Bagels With a Smile

On busy mornings, grab a bagel and some cream cheese. Sounds boring, right? Well, make it a little more fun by slicing up a squash, cucumber, tomato or zucchini and using the veggies to create a smiley face (or some other sort of design).

Getting kids to eat is an art form, and you’ll find that putting veggies together in this manner is an approach that really works.


Final Thoughts on Making a Healthy Breakfast for Kids Before School

Not every kid is going to like everything on this list. But there’s beauty in having several 5-minute-or-less options that you can test out during the school year. After all, it’s a lot better to waste 5 minutes making breakfast than it is to waste 20 minutes or more.

Do you have any other quick and easy breakfast ideas that work for your kids? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always get in touch using our contact page.

Certain words send a shudder of terror through the spines of parents. The most feared word? “Lice.” As in: “We’re sending your child home from school with lice.”


But how do kids get lice in the first place? Perhaps if parents could sniff out the source or cause of lice, they could help their children avoid it.

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about preventing and treating lice, as well as a comprehensive answer to the pointed question of: How do kids get lice?

Let’s get this myth out of the way first: Getting lice is not a sign that you or your child has poor hygiene habits or skills. As you’ll read below, anyone can get lice under the right conditions. So don’t feel embarrassed if you or your child gets lice, and don’t cast aspersions on others who get lice.


The Answer: How Kids Get Lice

Head lice are tiny parasites that must feed off another body to survive. More specifically, they need human blood to survive, and they get it from the scalps of unsuspecting people. They desperately need these scalps to survive, as they cannot fly and cannot survive in water. They only crawl, and they only live on humans.

How are lice transmitted from one person to another? Through a single method: personal contact. Lice can only transmit when the head of a person who’s infested with lice touches the head of a person who is not. In extremely rare cases, lice move onto someone’s clothing before finding their way to the scalp — but that almost never happens.

Kids get lice more often than adults for a scientific reason: the pH level of their scalps.

Humans are typically born with a neutral pH level of about 7. As humans age, their pH levels becomes more acidic, dropping to between 4.5 and 5.5. This acid isn’t a bad thing — it provides protection for our skin and keeps us from harm.

Like lice. Lice much prefer the neutral pH levels to the more acidic ones. Children under 12 have not developed their acidic layers yet, which is why they are much more likely to contract lice.


How to Get Rid of Lice on Kids

There’s little we as parents can do to prevent our kids from getting head lice. It’s just one of those rites of passage that many parents have to traverse before their children become safely acidic preteens.

While you may have no desire to treat lice, you’ll want to zap them effectively if they turn up in your children’s scalps. Here’s a 5-step process for how to get rid of lice on kids:

1. Use an Effective Treatment

You’ll find lots of different lice treatments, but focus on the two most popular:

  1. Piperonyl Butoxide With Pyrethrins (For Kids 2 and Older): This treatment is made from chrysanthemum flowers. It kills only living lice; not nits (lice eggs). Because it doesn’t kill nits, a second treatment will be needed if eggs hatch.
  2. Permethrin Lotion (For Kids Younger Than 2): This is a lice shampoo that is approved for use in babies and toddlers — anyone younger than 2. This treatment takes care of both lice and nits.

2. Remove Dead or Live Lice

Once your treatment of choice has killed the lice and/or nits, you’ll want to remove them. Removing lice and nits is best completed with a comb or brush, and you can find combs and brushes that are specially designed to capture as many lice and nits as possible.

3. Avoid Regular Shampoos

Traditional shampoos can interfere with the impact of some lice treatments, so avoid using them for 2 or 3 days after initial treatment. This will provide plenty of time for the treatment to take effect without interference.

4. Boil Combs and Brushes

Once you’re done with the combs and/or brushes, you’ll want to cleanse them. Soak them in boiling hot water for 10 minutes or longer to ensure that all lice and nits are completely gone.

5. Keep Checking

Keep an eye on the infected scalp for 2 or 3 weeks after the initial treatment is completed. You’ll want to make sure that nits don’t hatch and that nothing interfered with your treatment’s effectiveness. If you’re clear after 3 weeks, you have successfully treated the lice infestation. Congratulations!


My Kid Has Lice. Will I Get It?

Can adults get lice from kids? As noted above, lice prefer kids’ scalps to adults’ scalps, so parents are less likely to experience lice infestations. Still, it’s completely possible for adults to get lice from their children.

The best thing you can do is effectively treat lice infestations when they appear. Start treatment immediately, and always avoid head-to-head contact with anyone infested — as that’s the only way lice move from person to person.


Why Does My Kid Keep Getting Lice?

It can be really frustrating when your child seems to get lice over and over again. If you’re treating lice month after month, there are three possible explanations:

  1. Poor Treatment: It’s possible the last lice treatment didn’t work. Perhaps you thought you treated the lice effectively, but then nits hatched.
  2. Attractive pH Levels: Your child’s scalp may just have a pH level that lice love. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality for some kids.
  3. Bad Luck: When your child is in a preschool or school setting, surrounded by kids each and every day, lice happen. If they are happening to your child over and over, it may just be bad luck.

None of the explanations above are likely to make you feel better if you’re dealing with lice over and over again. But, if nothing else, they confirm that it’s not your fault and not your child’s fault. Again, lice just happen sometimes.


Why Do Some Kids Get Lice More Than Others?

This comes back to the science of lice: the more neutral the pH levels, the more likely a child is to attract a lice infestation. Some children have more acidic scalps, while others have more neutral scalps. If your child’s scalp is more neutral, he or she is more likely to contract lice.


Final Thoughts on How Kids Get Lice

Is there anything more frustrating than lice? It’s hard to think of what that something might be. Still, if you can pause to take a deep breath, be patient during a lice infestation.

You’ll be dealing with your child and your child’s teacher and school most likely. There may be other kids you know who are dealing with the same lice outbreak. All you can do is follow the steps for effectively treating lice — and be as patient as possible with everyone involved.

Do you have something to add about kids and lice? Let us know in the comments section, or send a message via our contact form.

Traveling can be stressful even when it’s just you. Add a child and an international destination, and things get much more stressful and much more complicated in a hurry. In many cases, traveling internationally with a child leaves the mother or father wondering: Do both parents need to be present for child passport?

The U.S. State Department has recently made changes to the requirements for getting a child passport. So, to help your international trip with children go as smoothly as possible, here’s everything you need to know about getting a passport, including the answer to this pressing question: Do both parents need to be present for child passport?

You might be wondering if your child needs a passport at all. The answer is “yes,” if you’re traveling to a foreign country. If you’re flying domestically, your child needs no ID (unless the airline requires proof of age for some reason, like if you’re trying to get a child under 2 onto a flight for free). If you’re flying to a U.S. territory (like Puerto Rico), your child needs no ID or passport, but he or she will need proof of citizenship and identity. But, in all cases, no matter the age and no matter the destination, your child needs a passport to travel to a foreign country.


4 Steps: Getting a Passport for a Child

Why has the U.S. State Department updated requirements for getting a child passport? Because it is trying to combat child abductions and human trafficking. While combatting these two issues is noble and important, it does make things more complicating for parents who need to secure child passports.

So, to make sure you have no issues getting your child a passport, follow these steps.

1. Fill Out Form DS-11

There’s just one form that all U.S. citizens must fill out to start the passport process. That form is known as the DS-11 (just click the link to check it out). This form is needed in a number of different cases, including:

  • When you need a first-time passport
  • When you need to replace a damaged, lost or stolen passport
  • When you need to renew a passport that’s been expired for 5-plus years
  • When you need to renew a passport issued to someone 15 or younger

Two tips for filling out the DS-11. First, make sure you write legibly. If the agent cannot read your writing, you’ll have to fill out the form again. And, second, leave it unsigned until you’re in the presence of an agent.

And that’s it. Start with the DS-11.

2. Collect Other Necessary Documents

Of course, you’ll need more than just the DS-11 to get a passport for a child. You’ll need a series of other supporting documents, including:

  • A certified long-form birth certificate or other evidence of the child’s U.S. citizenship (plus a photocopy)
  • A U.S. birth certificate or other evidence of the parents’ or guardians’ legal relationship to the child (plus a photocopy)
  • A passport or valid driver’s license for the parents/guardians OR a valid driver’s license for the child (plus a photocopy)
  • A passport photo for your child taken in the last 6 months (which you can typically get at drugstores, post offices and other places)

One last note: All photocopies must be on white, notebook-size (8.5 by 11 inches) paper, and only one side of each sheet can be used. Did we say that it’s complicated to get a passport for a child? This is just one of the many hurdles that can derail your application if you don’t make the proper preparations.

3. Gather Special Circumstance Documents

OK, so here’s the section that’s relevant to parents wondering if both parents need to be present for child passport. The answer is typically “yes,” both parents do need to be present. But there are 4 special circumstances that require documentation. Those special circumstances are:

  1. The Child Has Only One Parent or Guardian: You’ll need evidence of sole authority over the child, such as a birth certificate listing a single parent, a court order granting sole legal custody, a death certificate for the non-applying parent, etc.
  2. One Parent or Guardian is Unable to Appear: You’ll need a signed, notarized Form DS-3053, which is a “statement of consent” from the non-applying parent. Use the link to download the form, and don’t forget to notarize!
  3. One Parent or Guardian Cannot be Located: You’ll need to submit a Form DS-5525, which is a statement of exigent or special family circumstances. You may be asked to provide additional evidence to support your claim before the passport can be issued.
  4. Both Parents or Guardians are Unavailable: A third-party can accompany a child to get a passport, but only with a signed, notarized statement or affidavit from both parents or guardians that authorizes the third-party to accompany the minor. You’ll also need a photocopy of each parents’ ID (passport or valid driver’s license), as well as evidence of sole custody if there’s only one parent or guardian.

Take some time gathering these documents and double-checking whether or not they have been signed, notarized or otherwise executed properly. Having the wrong documents or not having the right ones is the most common way a passport application for a child gets derailed.

4. Visit an Application Acceptance Location

There are more than 9,000 places where you can apply for a passport across the United States. Once you have all your documents and materials, gather them together and take them to your closest passport office.

You’ll also need to pay a fee to apply for a child passport. There’s an application fee paid to the State Department, as well as an execution fee that’s paid to the agent.

Once you have submitted all materials and paid the relevant fees, it takes up to 6 weeks for the State Department to process the application. Traveling sooner than that? You can pay a little bit extra for expedited service that delivers the passport in 2 or 3 weeks.


Final Thoughts on Needing Both Parents to be Present for Child Passport

The fastest and easiest way to secure a passport for a child is for both parents to be present at application. Of course, that’s not always possible. In cases where both parents cannot be present, check out step No. 3 listed above, and make sure you have the proper documentation for your unique situation.

Here’s an overarching tip, no matter your circumstances: Give yourself as much time as possible. It takes up to 6 weeks to get a passport after initial application, and that’s assuming you have all the right documents and your application goes smoothly. To be sure there are no issues with your international travels, give yourself at least 2 months (and preferably even longer) to make sure you have no issues getting a child passport.

Also, if you have any questions along the way, you can always go straight to the U.S. Passport Service and pose questions or search for answers.

Do you have anything to add on getting a child passport? If so, let us know in the comments section below, or send a message using our contact form.

Parents can get a little competitive from time to time, which leads to questions like: When can babies stack blocks? It happens most often when parents see other children stacking and desperately want their own children to catch up development-wise.

It’s a little like this scene from Modern Family:

But you don’t have to cheat and make it appear that your son or daughter is stacking when he or she isn’t. It’s going to happen in time and it’s going to happen naturally, though there are some things that you can do to accelerate the process.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about when babies can stack blocks, as well as some helpful tips on nudging them to stack a little earlier than average.

Here’s our standard warning: Babies development at different rates, so don’t panic if your child is a little behind the landmarks outlined below. If you really are concerned, your pediatrician is the best person to ask about the situation.


Timeline: What Age Do Babies Start Stacking Blocks?

Looking for a timeline on when a child can stack blocks? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find a checklist of the average ages at which children can do different activities with blocks.

6 Months

Babies at this age are drawn to blocks. No, they can’t stack them just yet. But you’ll find that babies love to push blocks around, to swat at them, to chew them, etc. So make sure your baby has blocks to play with. Just having the blocks will set the stage for stacking in the future.

1 Year

There are two things you’ll start to notice stacking-wise at age 1. First, your child will start banging together anything that makes noise — blocks included. Parents don’t always love having noisy toys around, but this is one case in which you should accept it. Banging together blocks makes 1-year-olds more comfortable with them and can help accelerate future stacking.

Also, this is an age when you should start demonstrating how to stack blocks. Why? Because your 1-year-old will love to knock down any tower you build using blocks. So, if you have some blocks and you’re looking to have some fun with your 1-year-old, consider building a block tower — and letting him or her destroy it.

18 Months

A child begins stacking blocks at 18 months. Of course, some children may stack earlier and it may take other children longer to stack — but this is the average age.

Early on, stacking will include just two or three blocks. It’s not much, but it’s just the beginning of stacking abilities that will soon lead to much taller block towers.

2 Years

At age 2, the block towers get a little bit taller. Also, as we noted in our post about recognizing colors, your 2-year-old will be able to sort items by color. Encourage him or her to start organizing blocks by color.

Imagination begins to kick in at this age, too. You may find that your child stacks blocks and declares that they are a school or a library or a hotel. That’s awesome! And it’s really cool as a parent when you get to see your child intently playing and imagining that a stack of blocks is actually something else entirely.

3 Years

When can a child stack 10 blocks or more? That starts happening closer to age 3. Of course, by this age, your child is going to want to do more than just stack blocks one on top of the other. You’ll find that he or she likes to stack blocks in more intricate arrangements, declaring creations to be pyramids or forts or other structures.


Tips to Help Your Child Stack Blocks

What can you do to help your child stack blocks (without going the Modern Family route)? Try two things:

  1. Buy Quality Blocks: Make sure your child has blocks to stack in the first place. Look for wooden blocks that are made from either beech or maple, as these materials are more durable. Beech and maple blocks won’t splinter or crack, which is also safer for your child.
  2. Join In: Children at block-stacking ages love doing things with their parents. Don’t just encourage your child to stack blocks; get down on the floor beside your child and join in. Even block-stacking is an opportunity to bond and deepen your relationship, even as your child is developing a new skill.


Final Thoughts on When Babies Can Stack Blocks

Like so many posts that include helpful tips for parents, the two major takeaways are: 1) This is an activity that you can do with your child, so take advantage of the opportunity, and 2) Don’t panic if your child falls a little bit behind the average development timeline.

If your child is turning 4 and still can’t stack blocks, you’ll want to ask your pediatrician. But, in the meantime, encourage your child and celebrate the things that he or she can do — whether that includes stacking blocks or not.

Do you have anything to add from your child’s block-stacking experience? If so, feel free to comment below or send a direct message.

If you’ve spent time wrestling child seats out of one car and into another, you may be looking for something a little simpler. You may even be wondering: When can a child use a booster seat?

Booster seats are a little bit easier to manage than more traditional car seats. But, that said, you should never rush the transition from a car seat to a booster seat. There are certain landmarks that any child should hit before transitioning from one to another, and it’s unsafe to transition too soon.

Here’s a look at those key landmarks for any parent tired of wrestling child seats and wondering: When can a child use a booster seat?

Be aware of the embarrassment factor for your child. As kids start getting older and transitioning out of car seats and booster seats, your child may be embarrassed that he or she isn’t transitioning. The best way to help your child is to preach safety very early on. Make sure your child understands that car seats and booster seats aren’t just arbitrary items used for arbitrary periods of time — they are designed to maximize safety as your child grows and develops.


4 Signs: When Can My Child Use a Booster Seat?

The general indication that your child needs a booster seat is that he or she has outgrown the more traditional car seat. But how exactly do you know when a child has outgrown a car seat? Here are 4 signs to keep an eye on:


Your car seat should have a specific height limitation. These height limitations vary from seat to seat, and it’s unsafe to keep your child in a car seat once they have reached or passed that limitation. For many car seats, the height for graduation to a booster seat is around 35 inches.

Once your child is into a booster seat, they should keep using it until they reach 4 feet, 9 inches. This is the height at which it is typically safe to graduate to the built-in lap belt and shoulder harness without assistance.


You should follow your seat’s weight guidelines and limitations, too. You’ll know it’s time to start using a booster seat when your child hits 40 pounds, and you should continue using a booster seat until your child reaches 80 pounds.


Rather than weighing your child or measuring height, consider the actual fit of your car seat and potential booster seat. There will come a time when your child no longer fits comfortably into a car seat, which is a strong indication that it’s time to move on. After the transition to a booster seat, you’ll someday reach a point at which your child no longer fits into it either — which is when you don’t need a booster seat at all.


Children typically age into booster seats at the same time they age into school. If you have a child who is near kindergarten age, look for other signs that it’s time to use a booster seat rather than a car seat. Age-wise, booster seats are typically used until age 8. Keep in mind that no child should ride in the front seat until he or she reaches age 12, whether they are using a booster seat or not.


When Can a Child Stop Using a Booster Seat?

As noted above, there are several landmarks when a child can set aside the booster seat and use car seating without assistance. Those landmarks are when a child:

  • Weighs 80 pounds or more
  • Reaches 4 feet, 9 inches or taller
  • Turns age 8 or older
  • Fits comfortably into the built-in lap belt and shoulder harness

Until your child reaches these landmarks, keep using the booster seat. They are designed to maximize safety for your child in case of an accident.


Final Thoughts on When a Child Can Use a Booster Seat

Yes, car seats and even booster seats can be an inconvenience. Yes, it would be far easier to just use the seatbelts as installed in your vehicle. But this is all about safety, and today’s vehicles offer a range of safety features that could pose a threat to your child if he or she is not seated properly.

For example, there are airbags all over modern vehicles that could do more harm than good if a child isn’t seated properly. So make sure your child is using the right seat, no matter the inconvenience, and ensure his or her safety.

Do you have anything else to offer on car seats, booster seats and the ages for each? If so, send us a message, or use the comments section below.

Had enough of wiping your child’s bottom and taking out trash loaded down with wet diapers? Hey, it’s only natural after a few years of parenting. But when should a child be potty trained? That is, when do the butt-wiping and the soggy-trash come to an end?

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive answer to that question: When should a child be potty trained? You’ll also find some guidance on why a child might potty train at an accelerated or decelerated pace.

This is a common message at, but you should always remember that different children follow different developmental timelines. Don’t panic if your child is slightly behind the average potty-training timeline. Some kids just take longer than others. Read below to see when you should start talking to a pediatrician about your child and his or her potty training.


At What Age Do You Start Potty Training?

Here’s the thing about potty training: Kids will start letting you know when they’re ready. How do they let you know? They become more and more reluctant to poop and pee in their diapers.

Age 2 is a common time to start thinking about potty training. You’ll find that a child who is ready for potty training exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Staying dry through nap time
  • Curiosity about others using the potty
  • Telling you when about to go in a diaper
  • Telling you after going in a diaper
  • Hiding a wet or dirty diaper
  • Pulling or showing other signs of diaper discomfort

If you’re seeing any of these signs, it’s time to consider potty training.


Potty Training Differences By Gender

Little boys and girls are a little bit different when it comes to the average potty-training timeline. In fact, a 2002 academic study indicates that girls on average potty train just a few months earlier than boys. Here are the details:

When to Start Potty Training a Boy

The study noted above tested to see when boys and girls were “staying dry during the day.” That study found that the median age for boys to stay dry during the day was 35 months — or, just one month shy of turning 3.

When to Start Potty Training a Girl

When were girls able to stay dry during the day? At a median age of 32.5 months, which is closer to 2-and-a-half years old than to 3. Of course, individual boys and girls may potty train across a range of different ages, and that’s just fine. But girls are more likely to potty train earlier than boys.

Don’t Forget About Birth Order

If you’re potty training a second child, you may find that he or she potty trains at an earlier age than your firstborn — no matter the gender. That’s because younger siblings are often watching older siblings and following their leads. If an older sibling is seen peeing and pooping in the potty, the younger sibling will be more eager to replicate that behavior.


How Long Does Potty Training Take?

This is a hard question to answer: How long does it take to potty train? In some cases, it might take just a few days. In others, it could take weeks. In still other cases, it might be months before your child is fully potty trained.

That said, be aware that your child might grow more comfortable with peeing in the potty before pooping. In some instances, children are fully potty trained to go No. 1 well before they are fully potty trained to go No. 2. This is natural and not something to worry about.


Potty Training Deadlines

You may find that potty training is a gatekeeper for certain activities. There may be preschools or day camps or church events that non-potty trained kids are not allowed to participate in. If you’re staring down the deadline for a preschool or a similar program that requires potty training, plan ahead so that you have plenty of time to help your child master using the toilet. Need a little help? Try these 30 potty-training tips from Parents Magazine.


Final Thoughts on When a Child Should Be Potty Trained

OK, when should you talk to your doctor about potty training? If your child reaches 4 years old and still has not potty trained, it’s time to talk to the pediatrician.

But keep in mind that potty training is a process! Your child may seem fully potty trained, but don’t be surprised if accidents happen — especially when your child is outside of his or her regular routine. It’s age 4 when those accidents should become less and less or disappear altogether.

Do you have anything to add on potty training? Share in the comments section below, or send a message using our contact page.

After you have a child, you can start to feel trapped in your home. Nights that were once spent out on the town having a nice dinner or watching an acclaimed movie are now spent sitting bleary-eyed and praying that no child starts to cry. In time, you’ll begin to wonder: How old does a child have to be to babysit?

If you have a quality babysitter, you have freedom. Yes, the cost of nights out skyrockets due to the additional expense, but you’ll enjoy those nights out that much more. Freedom is nice to have after it’s been lost, even if only for a short while.

So, if you’re wondering how old a child needs to be to babysit, here are the answers to your pressing questions.

There’s a legal answer to this question, of course. Different states have different minimum ages at which a child can babysit, so be sure to check your local regulations before making a decision. Since different states have different minimum ages, the information below will focus on when a child should be able to babysit — not when a child is legally allowed to babysit.


Bottom Line: When is a Child Old Enough to Babysit?

The appropriate age of a babysitter is really dependent on the conditions — as you’ll see below. But, if you’re looking for a bottom-line age, 11 years old is the bare minimum a child should be before taking on a babysitting job.

That said, you wouldn’t leave an 11-year-old to watch a newborn overnight. A babysitter that age simply doesn’t have the experience or capabilities to handle even the most modest of emergency situations. But an 11-year-old could watch a 4- or 5-year-old for an hour while you run some errands.

The right age for a babysitter really depends on multiple factors. What types of factors? Read on to find out.


What to Look for in a Babysitter

As noted above, 11 is the bare minimum age at which a child can handle babysitting alone. But there’s another option: Try hiring someone as a household helper. For example, you could hire an 8-, 9- or 10-year-old to spend time with and look after your child while you remain in the home as a parent.

A household helper does several things. First, it gives you a set of helping hands with your child so that you can get some work done or just relax. Also, when you hire a 10-year-old as a household helper, you can groom him or her to serve as a traditional babysitter in a year or two.

What exactly are you looking for in a household helper or babysitter? Consider the following:

Age of Children to be Babysat

The younger the child who needs babysitting, the older the babysitter needs to be. If you have a newborn, you really need a teenager, college student or someone older who has experience with babysitting children that age. But, if you have a 7-year-old who needs babysitting, the 12-year-old from down the street can likely do the job for a short period of time.

Maturity of Babysitter

Ah, maturity. This quality is at a premium when you’re looking for a babysitter. In short, you want to find the most mature possible babysitter for your child, someone who brings a true sense of personal responsibility to the job. This is one reason why it’s nice to have a recommendation from someone you know and trust. If you have a friend who recommends a babysitter, there’s a good chance that sitter has the maturity needed to look after your child.

Experience of Babysitter

As noted above, experience is nice to have. Look for babysitters who have done a lot of babysitting, or look for sitters who have younger siblings. Older brothers and sisters have typically collected some babysitting experience, whether they wanted it or not.

Safety Threats

What types of safety threats are there at your home? The more safety threats that are present, the older and more experienced the babysitter that you should seek out. Look for lifeguards or any other possible sitters that have training or education that would help them in an emergency situation.


How Old Should a Child be to Babysit Overnight?

Here’s a good question: How old should a child be to babysit overnight? A good rule of thumb is someone who is of driving age: If a babysitter can operate a vehicle (or, better yet, has his or her own vehicle), that sitter can likely handle the rigors and needs of overnight babysitting. You may get a little squeamish about leaving your child overnight with a 16- or 17-year old, in which case it’s best to find someone 18 or older.


A Must-Do: Red Cross Babysitter Training

One last thing for parents who want the perfect babysitter: Have your sitters take a Red Cross Babysitting Course. These courses cover all the necessities, including:

  • What to do in an emergency
  • First aid
  • Dealing with behavior issues
  • Appropriate activities
  • More

These courses are great when you want to develop a long-term relationship with a babysitter. And the sitter who takes the course benefits, too — each course includes tips on growing a babysitting business.


Final Thoughts on How Old a Child Needs to be to Babysit

You likely have a gut feel about whether or not a babysitter is ready to handle your kids or not. Follow that gut feel. Don’t let an unqualified babysitter do the job just because you want to get out of the house.

And don’t forget the power of asking for recommendations. If you know people in the same life stage as you, ask them for babysitting recommendations. You can also leverage social media. Put out a post on Twitter or Facebook asking for babysitting recommendations in your neck of the woods.

Do you have any other tips or thoughts on finding the right babysitter? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always send a message directly.

It’s scary when your child gets sick. It’s especially scary when your child feels piping hot and is clearly suffering from a fever. Are you wondering how to bring down a fever in a child? You’re not alone.

Fever is a common symptom in children of all ages who are fighting off infections. Here are some tips for how  to treat a fever in a child, as well as other fever-related information that’s important to know as you nurse your sick child.

You probably learned somewhere along the way that 98.6 degrees is the normal temperature of the human body. While that’s true, there’s really more of a range than a specific “normal” temperature. Anything between 97.7 degrees and 99.5 degrees should be considered “normal.” If a thermometer shows that your child is 99.5 degrees or cooler, that’s not really a temperature at all.


Fever Symptoms in a Child

The first thing most parents notice in a feverish child is the heat. Put your hand to your child’s forehead, and you’ll notice immediately that he or she is warmer than normal.

But here’s a tip: Simply feeling your child’s head is not an accurate measure of temperature and does not confirm a fever.

Look for other symptoms, too. Common symptoms associated with a fever include:

  • Irritability and low energy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • General pain
  • Unusual breathing
  • Sweating
  • Paleness
  • Redness
  • Rash development
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat

If your child feels warm and it also experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, there’s a good chance your child is suffering from a fever. Now it’s time to measure and make sure.


How to Take a Child’s Temperature

If you have one child and certainly if you have more than one child, consider investing in a digital thermometer. They are easy to find, relatively affordable and among the most accurate temperature-measuring devices you can use.

If you have an old-school glass thermometer, it needs to be thrown away safely. They are no longer used because they can break and allow dangerous mercury to escape. Call your city’s waste management department for guidance on where you can safely dispose of a glass thermometer.

You may also encounter ear thermometers, which are prohibitively expensive, as well as fever tapes, which do not provide accurate readings. Again, your best bet is a digital thermometer.


Oral vs. Rectal Temperatures

Digital thermometers can be used either orally or rectally. Just know that the “normal” ranges are different depending on where you take a temperature.

  • For oral measurements, the range is generally 97 to 99 degrees.
  • For rectal measurements, the range is just a bit higher — generally 98 to 100.4 degrees.

Oral measurements are best for children 5 and older.

Rectal measurements are best for children younger than 5.


Tips: How to Reduce Fever in Child

When your child is running a fever, you want to do something about it. Thankfully, there are several ways to help. Here’s a look at 4 things you can do when wondering how to reduce fever in child:

1. Medicate

Infants between 2 and 6 months can take Tylenol (or generic forms of acetaminophen), but it’s always a good idea to let your doctor know when medicating a baby that young — even over-the-counter medications. Children 6 months and older can take either Tylenol or ibuprofen. Never give anyone younger than 20 aspirin.

And here’s one last tip on medication: Only medicate if the fever is higher than 102 degrees. Anything less than 102 should dissipate quickly without help from medication.

2. Stay Hydrated

Encourage your child to drink a lot of clear, cool liquids. Water is great, obviously, but so too is fruit juice, Gatorade and Pedialyte. You can also have a little fun with it by having popsicles.

Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration, which is a greater threat when a child is running a fever. Babies should have at least 6 wet diapers a day, and kids who are older should be urinated at least 3 times a day. If your child is falling short of those numbers, hydrate more.

3. Keep Cool

Don’t bundle up your child in lots of clothes, and don’t bury him or her under a pile of blankets. You want the heat related to fever to escape your child’s body, so do whatever you can to keep him or her cool.

4. Take Baths

A bath always helps, too, but here’s the twist: A fever bath shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. In fact, a tepid or even room temperature bath works best to help lower a fever.


What to Feed a Child With Fever

It can be hard enough to get your child to eat when he or she is perfectly healthy. That said, if you want some ideas for what to feed a child with fever, consider the following:

What to Feed a Child of 6 to 12 Months:

  • Formula or breast milk
  • Popsicles
  • Warm soup
  • Fruit/vegetable puree

What to Feed a Child of 1 to 3 Years:

  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Rice
  • Toast
  • Cereal
  • Chicken soup

You may see some of the items listed above and roll your eyes. “My child isn’t going to eat soup!” Hey, same for me. But these are just a few ideas you can try. So give one a shot and see if it helps.


Should I Let My Child Sleep With a Fever?

There’s nothing inherently bad about a child sleep with a fever. Make sure you treat the fever as outlined above, but then try to encourage your child to sleep like he or she normally would.

You may find that your child struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep. After all, a fever is an indication that the body is fighting an infection, so it’s only natural that sleep would be more challenging than usual. Also, it’s not uncommon for fevers to spike at night — but those spikes can make it more difficult of a child to get rest.


When to Take Child to Doctor for Fever

There are cases that require a visit to a doctor. The problem for parents is knowing when that line has been crossed. If you’re wondering when to take child to doctor for fever, here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Anytime a fever lasts 3 days or longer
  • Anytime a child can’t stay hydrated (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.)
  • Anytime a baby under 2 months is running a fever
  • Anytime a baby between 3 and 6 months is running a fever of 102 or higher
  • Anytime a child has a temperature of 104 or higher

A fever isn’t a real threat to your child until it reaches 106 degrees. Yes, follow the guidance in the bullets above for temperatures less than 104 degrees, but don’t become overly worried. If your child is running a fever of 106 of higher, call your doctor immediately — or visit an emergency room if it’s after hours.


Final Thoughts on How to Bring Down a Fever in a Child

That’s a lot of info on fevers in children. But there’s one more thing you need to know about: when your child can return to school after a fever.

Here’s the best rule of thumb: Wait 24 hours after your child has been fever-free without treatment. So, if you’re keeping the fever down with medication, the 24-hour window hasn’t started yet. You need to wait until your child has gone a full, fever-free day without the help of medication.

You might have a different tip for how to bring down a fever in a child. Let us know in the comments section below, or send us a message using our contact page.

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