10 Tips for Taking Your Charges Out to Eat


For many nannies, taking their charges out to eat is a welcomed change to the daily routine. But eating out with young children isn’t always fun and stress free. The good news is, with a little planning and preparation, dining out with your charges can be a great experience that provides opportunities to teach and reinforce acceptable mealtime and restaurant behavior.

Before heading out to eat with your charges, consider these 10 tips.

1. Do your research. Before heading out to eat, consider the restaurants in your area. Visit their websites or call ahead to confirm hours and the availability of a children’s menu. Have an idea of what you’re going to order for yourself and the kids prior to leaving the house.

2. Choose a kid-friendly restaurant. There’s nothing more stressful than being in a place where you know kids aren’t welcome. Restaurants with booths and bright lighting and those that advertise themselves as family-friendly typically are prepared to warmly welcome children. Kid-friendly restaurants will have things for the children to do while they wait for their food and will have a separate children’s menu. Once you’ve mastered eating out at casual restaurants, work your way up to fine dining establishments

3.  Plan to go before hunger strikes. If you know the kids are typically ready for dinner at 5 o’clock, be seated by 4:30 so that their food arrives by 5. If you wait until the kids vocalize that they are hungry before heading out they likely won’t have the patience to wait for their food.

4.  Pack snacks. For babies and young toddlers, packing puff like snacks, dry cereal, or oyster crackers can keep them occupied and provide them with something to munch on should they get hungry before their food comes.

5. Pack small items to keep the kids occupied. Depending on the child’s age rattles, crayons and paper, magnetic drawing boards, travel games, or brain teaser puzzle books can offer a distraction while waiting for dinner to arrive.

6. Plan for an hour. At kid-friendly restaurants, you should be able to be seated, order, and eat within an hour. Anything longer than that and the children will become antsy and be ready to move on.

7. Leave before the crowd. Timing your restaurant visit to end before the crowd comes in can ensure you get quick service. Getting the attention of your waitress when she has just your table is much easier than trying to flag her down when her section is full.

8. Have active time first. If you know that you’ll be heading out to eat, give young children an opportunity to run and play prior to visiting the restaurant. If they have a chance to burn some energy before heading out to eat they may be more likely to stay seated while dining out.

9. Bring a backup. Most family-friendly restaurant staff realizes that kids can be finicky eaters. Packing a backup of diced string cheese and berries can ensure your charge eats something should he refuse to eat what’s prepared at the restaurant.

10. Use natural learning moments. When dining out there are lots of opportunity to teach and reinforce good manners and social skills. Be a solid role model and teach your charges how to enjoy a restaurant meal and behave when dining with others. Look for opportunities to praise good behavior. Saying things like “Wow, I really like how you asked me to give you a napkin rather than reaching across the table for one” will reaffirm the importance of conducting yourself appropriately and making good choices when dining out.

Depending on your nanny position, you may or may not eat out regularly with the children. Since many parents are concerned about their children’s dietary needs and habits, you’ll want to be sure to ask permission before taking your charges out to eat.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Los Angeles

Away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, there’s a vast array of exciting activities in and around the Los Angeles area for kids! While Tinseltown may feel more like an adult vacation destination, there is a staggering array of reasons to consider making your next family trek to sunny Los Angeles. Here are ten of the attractions you may find to be a surprising motivation for your decision to vacation in the City of Angels.

  1. Bob Baker Marionette Theater (Los Angeles, CA 90026) – Founded in 1963, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is the longest-running children’s theater in Los Angeles. The productions are even more impressive when you realize that the marionettes, puppets, costumes and props are all produced on-site. Because kids can be so entranced with the art of puppetry, Bob Baker Marionettes are also available for purchase in the shop.
  2. Heritage Square Museum (Los Angeles, CA 90031) – Kids with an affection for period costumes, history and Victorian architecture will be wowed by this open-air museum, consisting of eight separate Victorian-era buildings rescued from demolition. Three houses, a railway depot, shop in the process of being renovated are among the offerings, which can be toured with a period-costumed guide at the helm. There are some living history programs available, and picnicking is allowed on the lawn.
  3. Boone Children’s Gallery (Los Angeles, CA 90036) – Located within the Los Angeles County Museum of Art West, the Boone Children’s Gallery is a fully-interactive attraction designed to foster an appreciation and understanding of art in young children. Budding artists will love the demonstrations on Korean brush painting techniques, along with the other special and seasonal offerings.
  4. The Getty Center (Los Angeles, CA 90049) – Atop the Santa Monica Mountains, a world-class collection of art is nestled within The Getty Center. Kids will love the monorail transportation from the parking lot to the museum, which features a Family Room and offers materials for kids to play games at the exhibits. There are also projects for making masks, sculptures and drawings for the smaller set.
  5. Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Arcadia, CA 91007) – One hundred and twenty-seven acres of plants, divided by their continent of origin, provide kids with an exciting and entertaining natural science lesson. Baldwin Lake is home to a variety of animal species, which will be almost as enthralling to little ones as the African-style grass hut replicas left behind after the filming of early Tarzan films.
  6. Discovery Science Center (Santa Ana, CA 92705) – Almost sixty-thousand square feet of interactive exhibits, hands-on learning opportunities and installations designed to spark kids’ curiosity are housed within the sprawling Discovery Science Center, which is also known as the Discovery Cube. Kid-favorite exhibits include the variety of velociraptors, a Tyrannosaurus and an argentinosaurus, the opportunity to walk through a tornado and experience a simulated earthquake.
  7. The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Los Angeles, CA 90036) – After being trapped within the La Brea Tar Pits during the Pleistocene Epoch, a vast array of prehistoric animals were discovered by modern scientists. Thanks to the remarkable preservation power of the tar, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits now houses more than one million fossils and bones. Kids love the tar-pulling exhibit and the life-sized robotic animal sculptures, which provide a realistic simulation of what various species looked and sounded like before their extinction.
  8. Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles, CA 90027) – After extensive renovations, the Griffith Park Observatory is once again open for business and boasting a top spot among Los Angeles tourist attractions. A seamless dome in the planetarium, a presentation theater with 200 seats and an extensive collection of meteorites are all awe-inspiring sights for kids with a curiosity about space.
  9. The Huntington (San Marino, CA 91108) – With art collections, botanical gardens and a library on-site, the Huntington is a great destination for families. Kids love the waterfalls, Japanese garden and the specially-designed Children’s Garden, while the paved pathways make it easy to navigate the one hundred and fifty acres with a stroller.
  10. Disneyland (Anaheim, CA 92802) – No list of family vacation destinations in the Los Angeles area would be complete without an appearance by the embodiment of childhood fantasy. Meeting real-life representations of their favorite animated characters, enjoying the themed rides and experiencing the enchantment of Disneyland are experiences that your little ones aren’t likely to ever forget, making it a perfect choice for a family vacation.

It’s important to keep in mind that some areas of Los Angeles can become a bit less than kid-friendly after dark, with an adults-only culture that shows up with the sun goes down. Be sure you do a bit of research about the area in which your hotel accommodations are located, and what to expect from the neighborhood during your stay to ensure that your little ones aren’t exposed to anything unsavory, and you’re not charged with answering awkward questions.

Potty Training Tips and Tools for Parents and Nannies

potty training tips

Learning to use the potty is a big step for kids. Potty training naturally comes at a time when a child’s independence is burgeoning and she’s ready to tackle new challenges. Here are some tips for knowing when to start toilet training and how to make it a successful and stress-free endeavor.

Kids need to be ready. Children need to be ready both physically and emotionally to successfully potty train. If you try to train before that, it will be a frustrating process for both you and your child and may cause problems over the long haul. Most children are ready between 2 ½ and 3 years of age, but remember every child is different so there’s no “right” age to beginning the process. 

Watch for physical signs of readiness. If the child is aware that she needs to go the bathroom, urinates a lot at one time rather than a little throughout the day, has the ability to stay dry for two or more hours, has fairly predictable bowel movements, and has the coordination to pull her pants up and down, she may be ready to use the potty.

Also watch for emotional signs of readiness. If the child is able to sit and engage in an activity for several minutes without becoming fidgety or irritated, she’s interested in your potty habits (e.g. she wants to follow you to the bathroom), doesn’t like being in a wet or dirty diaper, and is excited about the milestone (e.g. she wants big girl underwear), she may be ready to use the potty.

You don’t have to wait for all of these signs to be present before tackling potty training, but waiting until your child shows a majority of the signs will ensure you are successful.

Communicate with your nanny. As in all things child-related, consistency is key. Getting on the same page with your nanny, and making sure what’s happening during the week is also what’s happening on the weekends, will make the process go faster and smoother.

Your nanny may have past experience with potty training and be a wealth of information about what works, what doesn’t work, and what to try if you get stuck. While every child and situation is different, experienced nannies often have a bag of tricks that work in a variety of situations.

Have reasonable expectations. Potty training can be really frustrating for adults. Do yourself a favor and embrace the idea that training will take as long as it takes, there will be good days and bad days, it might be messy, and you can’t control the process. Kids sense when the adults around them are tense so if you’re feeling really frustrated about potty training, it will impact the way your child feels about the whole process.

Make it a shame-free process. Your child is learning a new skill. One that is exciting to her but can also be scary, overwhelming, and difficult to master. It’s important that you genuinely support your child through both her successes and failures and see mistakes as simply part of the learning process. 

Stay regular. Having your child sit on the potty at regular intervals during the day is essential to potty training. There will be many times when nothing happens, but when she does go it helps her make the connection between the potty and what’s happening with her body. It’s often hard to remember to ask your child to use the potty throughout the day. A great tool that is fun for kids is the Potty Watch. It reminds kids to visit the potty with blinking lights and a song.

Have fun with charts. Kids (and most nannies!) love charts. They’re a tangible way for children to see what their goal is and to track the progress that they’re making. The website Potty Training Concepts has an amazing array of downloadable potty training charts including ones with children’s favorite characters from Disney and Nick, Jr. Add some favorite stickers and you have a great tool to motivate your child.

Get creative with incentives. Even for parents who don’t normally use incentives, potty training can be one of those times when they can be used to celebrate your child’s potty training victories and motivate her to keep up the good work. These small rewards can be anything you want: a small toy, a special treat, or an outing to a favorite place. Use something your child can get excited about and that still fits into your overall parenting philosophy.

Use books to make it easier. There are lots of tools that can help your child master potty training. Books are a great way to introduce the idea of the potty and start a conversation about exactly what happens in the bathroom. Everyone Poops reassures kids that what’s happening with their body is something that every creature, human and otherwise, experiences too. Once Upon a Potty, available in a boy and girl version, explains in kid-friendly terms how the body actually works.

Potty training doesn’t have to be a stressful time for you or your child. With a positive attitude and a lot of patience, your toddler will be diaper free in no time. 

10 Common Childhood Rashes

childhood rashes

What’s that rash?  You are caring for a child, and you notice her itching what looks to be a rash.  For the most part, rashes are very common in children and are usually nothing to be too concerned about.  Rashes can be caused by a number of different reasons.  Check out 10 common childhood rashes so that you can be informed the next time you notice a rash.


  1. Diaper rash is very common in infants.  Every child will probably experience diaper rash at some point before he is out of diapers.  The rash can be caused by chafing, contact with urine or stool for an extended period of time, and sometimes the material the diaper is made out of.  Treatment should be to change the baby as soon as you can after they have a bowel movement or urinate.  Gently clean the infected area and apply a thick coating of diaper cream, which will protect the skin in the future. Soaking the area can also help.  Try to get as much air to the area as possible.  This rash will only appear in the diaper area.
  2. Heat rashes are common ailments for children.  Heat rash is most often caused by the skin getting too warm.  The sweat gets trapped under the skin and causes irritation, which is why the skin turns red and itchy bumps occur in the area of irritation.  These areas are usually where the skin is the warmest and typically include the under arms, inner thighs, back, and arm pits.  The rash will usually go away once the skin has cooled down.  Cooling the skin with a cold shower and staying in an air conditioned environment for a day or two should clear up the condition.
  3. Hives are a common allergic reaction in children and also appear as a rash.  Hives are red bumps or welts on the skin that are very itchy.  This rash is caused by a reaction to a certain medicine, food, or insect bite.  If your child gets hives make sure there is no swelling of the face area.  If there is you need to seek medical attention. Hives is the most common rash where medical attention is necessary to figure out the cause and determine a course of action for a cure.
  4. Pityriasis Rosea is common in young adults.  This rash starts out with a small pink rash on the chest or back that is ¾ of an inch to 2 inches wide.  The experts call this a “herald patch” because it warns you of what is to come.  In the next week or two the child will break out in hundreds of small pink rashes all over the arms, legs and body, but rarely on the face.  The sores will be shaped kind of like a Christmas tree.  This rash will run its course in 3 to 9 weeks and leave no scarring on the skin.  Exposure to the sun could speed up the healing.
  5. Warts are considered to be a rash as well.  Surprisingly warts are considered a type of rash because children can get groups or clumps of them.  They usually appear on their feet and hands, and they can be contagious if touched, but are not contagious any other way.  Most doctors won’t remove lots of warts off of children.  According to Dr. Sheila Friedlander, a leading dermatologist, children can be treated at home by using a pumice stone to rough up the warts after a bath and then applying an over-the-counter wart remedy.  She also suggests trying freezing treatments, which can now be purchased over-the-counter and can be helpful in getting rid of the warts.
  6. Urushiol or poison ivy is a common rash in children.  This rash will have red, itchy bumps and blisters.  Treat with cool compresses and calamine lotion.  If the case appears to be very severe you may need to seek medical attention for a prescription antihistamine.  Poison ivy is a plant with three shiny reddish green leaves.  If the child has been in the woods a day or two prior to the rash developing it could be poison ivy.
  7. Irritant contact dermatitis can be red, swollen, or itchy.  These kinds of rashes usually develop when the skin comes into contact with an allergen like a new detergent or soap.   Avoid the irritant in the future.  If a severe reaction occurs, or if big blisters are present, seek medical attention.
  8. Eczema is usually located behind the knees and elbows.  Infants as young as 1 month old can have eczema, and in addition to the knees and elbows the rash can also appear on the face.  This condition is often itchy and can make an infant very cranky.  For treatment use an over-the-counter cream that’s recommended by your physician. 
  9. Phytophotodermatitis is a rash that has often been confused with child abuse.  This rash usually occurs in the summer and is caused by a chemical reaction to certain enzymes that are found in citrus fruits or vegetables such as parsnips.  The rash is caused when an infant or child gets the juice on their skin and is then exposed to the sun.  For example, mom is squeezing limes into a drink while on the beach and the child goes running by and she grabs him.  Now the lime juice is on the child’s skin and he’s at the beach exposed to the sun.  The rash often appears in the shape of a hand print because of this transfer method, which is why it is often confused with child abuse.
  10. Roseola is probably the most common childhood rash.   Roseola is a type of viral infection, and will cause children to have a sudden high fever lasting 3 to 7 days.  When the fever goes away a red rash will develop starting on the tummy and then spreading to the rest of the body.  Children get this from being exposed to another child that has it.  Most kids contract this prior to entering kindergarten.  Room temperature sponge baths and mild fever reducing medicine should be all the treatment that is needed. 


10 Essential Things Your Summer Nanny Needs to Know

need to know

Even though your summer nanny is only watching your child for a few months out of the year, she still needs to be well-informed about your children and your household. Before you leave your nanny in charge, make sure she knows:

1. The details of your child’s allergies and food sensitivities. Specifically outline what your child can and can’t eat and the risks associated with different foods so your summer nanny understands how to best feed your child. Armed with the correct information she can prepare healthy meals and snacks that work with your child’s particular diet. Make sure your nanny understands how to accurately read ingredient labels and menus so she can make safe and healthy food choices even when she’s out of the house. If your child has a severe allergy and requires an EpiPen, give her written permission to use it, show her how to administer it, and let her know it must be within arm’s reach at all times. 

2. Emergency contact information for a trusted adult. Of course, you should always be the first call your nanny makes if there’s an emergency with her, your child, or your home. However there may be times when your nanny can’t reach you or when you’re not able to get home as quickly as needed. Providing your summer caregiver with emergency contact information for a trusted, close-by person like a grandparent or neighbor is an essential part of an emergency plan. You never know when something unexpected will happen and she’ll need a trusted person to step in and help out.

3. What to do in case of a medical emergency. The time to talk about what to do in an emergency is before anything happens. Some situations, like when a broken bone is suspected or your child is having a severe allergic reaction, clearly require immediate medical attention and your nanny should know to call 911 or immediately take your child to the emergency room.

Other situations, such as when your child twists an ankle or gets hives, are more subjective and require clear direction from you. Let your nanny know what you want her to do if your child gets hurt or sick. Do you want her to treat your child based on her own judgment or do you want her to contact you and wait for instructions? If you’re not immediately available, how long should she wait before taking action? Being clear about who the decision maker is in advance is the best way to make sure your child gets the type of treatment you want for her.

4. What to do in case of a pet emergency. Provide your summer nanny with a written medical history of your pet including all medicines he’s taking, any allergies he has, and his microchip details. Also provide full emergency contact information for your vet and the address of the emergency animal clinic nearest your home. During the summertime, pets often escape the house or yard or eat things that make them sick. Giving your nanny the information she needs to act quickly if there’s a pet emergency could save your dog’s or cat’s life.

5. Utility fundamentals. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen: a circuit overloads and trips the breaker, a pipe bursts, there’s a small kitchen fire. Spend a few minutes showing your nanny where the breaker box, water shut-off valve, fire extinguisher, and other key utility features are and she’ll be equipped to handle whatever comes up.

6. How the security system works. Your security system protects your house and your family. Show your nanny how to turn it on and off so she can safely come and go throughout the day. Many companies allow you to create a second set of passcodes for household staff, allowing them to use the alarm without giving them access to your personal information or permanent codes.

7. Your child’s daily schedule. Kids do best when they have a predictable schedule. Although summertime means more relaxed days, it’s still important for your nanny to stick close to your child’s established meal and nap schedule. Write out what time your child generally eats, sleeps, and does other favorite activities to help your nanny stay inside your child’s scheduling comfort zone.

8. General house and yard rules. Every household has a different set of rules. The only way for your summer nanny to follow the rules of your house is to fill her in on what your child can and can’t do. Can your child eat in the play room? Is she welcome to play in the formal living room? Is she allowed to water the flowers outside? There’s no way to cover all of your house rules, but by outlining the important ones your nanny will get a good sense of what you feel is appropriate and can make smart decisions about other issues.

9. What your child is allowed to do independently. If you have older kids, at some point your summer nanny will hear, “But Mom lets me do that by myself!” Sit down with your nanny and outline what you’re comfortable allowing your child to do independently to avoid creating a power struggle between the nanny and your child. This will also show you respect your child’s hard-earned independence. Can he play in the backyard by himself? Is he allowed to ride his bike to his friend’s house a few houses down the block? Can he be on Facebook without an adult checking in on his activities? Letting your nanny know what boundaries to set around your child’s activities will help her find the right balance between freedom and supervision.

10. Any must-do projects, assignments or chores. Sometimes children have academic assignments, school projects, or household chores they have to do during the summer months. Most kids won’t volunteer this information to the nanny so make sure you loop her in on anything your child needs to complete during the day. This will allow her to plan a fun day that allows enough time for your child to finish anything on his to-do list.

Having a summer nanny is a great childcare option for both you and your child. By making sure she has all the information she needs, she’ll be ready to do a great job and handle any emergency that comes up.