I've come across a few new things recently that I wanted to share. Just a disclosure reminder, I get a small (pennies) commission if you click on the amazon links and put the product in your cart and then check out. However, this commission does not effect what products I add to these posts (I've never actually made any money through this program, I think they have pay out minimums that I haven't exceeded).
Kidco Peapod Plus: When Colin outgrew his pack and play I wasn't sure what the next option would be while we were traveling. At the time he was still in the crib so I wasn't sure a bed at a hotel would be appropriate. So I took to the internet and found the peapod! After reading dozens of reviews I choose this color combination which came with an inflatable mattress and pump and sleeping bag. I originally thought I should go with the self inflating mattress but others said it was less cushioned than the pump up mattress and that kids seemed to really like the sleeping bag. Colin just loves this thing and it is SO much easier to pack than the pack and play. I think it probably weighs about 5 lbs and folded it fits in a round bag about the size of the circle you make with your arms when your hands touch in front of you. Awesome. This would work great for an infant too, although I imagine a crawler/new walker might try to use it for support and cause some tipping. Colin of course can operate the zipper but has never gotten out without permission, I like that it has the mesh sides along with the fabric flaps that can be tied open to let air circulate or zipped up to keep light out. I highly recommend it even if your little guy/girl hasn't outgrown the pack and play, it is SO much smaller to pack when you travel, even if just to grandmas house.
Kid-Tough Travel Doodler with Light. If you know this blog, you know I'm not a fan of Fisher Price but this little product is an exception. I picked this up along with some other random things right before we drove to Myrtle Beach. Turns out I didn't really need much for the car ride (two teenage aunts were entertainment enough for the time he was awake). However, this was a huge hit in the hotel room regardless, and not just with Colin. Some of the older kids really enjoyed writing silly messages on it, and even a few 'adults' got in on the action. Colin still pulls this out at home and just this evening was drawing "dinosaurs" and "strawberries" (actually just scribbles but I appreciate his imagination!). The light while pretty unnecessary most of the time, adds one more aspect of fun, Colin likes controlling lights so pushing the button to make it go on and off is entertaining for him.
Matchbox Pop Up Playsets Ours just happens to be the Handy Manny version, but they have so many different types I made the link general. This is another random toy I picked up to have something new in the car. Colin found it one afternoon while we were in the hotel and we didn't hear a peep from him for about 25 minutes (four hours in toddler time). The key to this is limited use for us. This isn't a toy Colin has free access too, but when we need it we pull it out (like the other day while I was waiting for a blood draw at the lab. A 45 minute wait can be pretty miserable with a toddler, but between this and a bagel Colin was an angel. The best part about it is it is compact and all folds up for storage and travel. The picture shows a few cars but there is only one in the box and that is fine with us. There are just enough moving parts to keep him entertained for long stretches. It also helps that he is really getting involved with imaginative play now, he will occasionally add some dialogue so you can hear what he is thinking and it is pretty adorable. Love this toy.
Parking Pal Magnet. If you have a toddler or preschooler, you need to know about this! It is such a simple idea, I wish I had thought of it! It is a magnet you put on your car and you teach your child to put their hand on it and keep it there until you 'release' them. Colin took to it like a duck to water. No more trying to squeeze hold him between my knees while I reach back into the car for whatever random item is left behind. In NYC where we have to park on the street this is amazing... I'm actually really surprised it hasn't been stolen yet to be honest. This is going to be even more helpful with Baby Bee makes her arrival and I have to juggle getting two kids (and all our stuff) in and out of the car. I love it, and Colin thinks its fun and is so proud of himself when he uses it properly (for 3 he takes this responsibility very seriously). Obviously this is not a replacement for supervision but it isn't like I ask him to put his hand on it and then I walk away from the vehicle. Plus its a magnet so I can move it to whatever side of the car I need him to be on (depending on which side of the road I park on).