Holiday Gift Guides for the Children, Nannies and Babysitters on Your List

Photo by monettenriquez

Get a head start on your holiday shopping by checking out two brand new UrbanSitter Pinterest boards.

We’ve created awesome holiday gift boards to help guide you to the right present for your kids or other little ones on your holiday list, and we don’t want you to forget your nanny or the super babysitters you depend on throughout the year, so we’ve created a gift board for them, too!

Here are just a few suggestions to get you started on your holiday shopping:

Holiday Gifts for Nannies and Sitters – Pinterest Board

Most nannies and babysitters will agree that a cash bonus is the best holiday gift, but it’s always nice to accompany it with a personal gift to show you think of them as more than just a household employee.  How about one of these?

Mujjo Touchscreen Gloves are ingenious. Their conductivity and texture allow you to use any touchscreen device without taking your gloves off, which means you can text or map out your destination without getting frost-bitten hands.  They come in five colors. You can’t go wrong with black.

Kelly Wearstler Cabochon stud earrings are not only gorgeous and incredibly thoughtful to give. They are also sure to appeal to any taste or personal style. You can’t miss with either the Hemmatite or Howlite natural stone insets.

West Elm Favorite Throws are super soft and offered in an array of beautiful colors. They are just right when you want to give a little something to show your gratitude.  And just the right price at their currently reduced price of $23.

How about a little something for your child to give his nanny or favorite sitter? We’ve got the perfect find. This gold heart key chain from JCrew will melt her heart every time she grabs for her keys.

If she’s worthy of a splurge, why not give a road warrior urbanite a snazzy new bike helmet like this Furono Leopard Bike Helmet from Cloak & Dagger? It’s just the thing to jazz up her daily commute to your place.

Holiday Gifts for Babies and Kids – Pinterest Board

Here are five cool finds that are sure to please boys and girls in each age range on your list.

The Bloom Coco Lounger is a gift parents will appreciate and baby will enjoy. It calms fussy babies with a gentle rocking motion and looks uber cool in the living room.

You won’t wince when you see Baby chewing on these adorable rattles. Yellow Label Kids products are hand-knit from organic bamboo yarn and are made by artisans who are paid fair living wages as set forth by the Fair Trade Federation. And, they are oh so cute and have a soft bird song rattle.

Think of your toddler’s eyes popping open in wonder when she opens her very own personalized board book featuring photos of Mommy and Daddy, the family pet, and a favorite toy or blanket. This impressive gift is totally DIY and sure to become a cherished favorite. Click here for a tutorial from the blogger who created it.

The LeapFrog LeadPad is a big hit with kids age 4 to 7. It’s entertaining and educational and a bit easier on your wallet than going the IPad route.  Think of how nice it will be when you don’t have to hand over your smart phone to keep him busy in the waiting room.

Do you know a Big Girl who is all about glitz and glamour and would love nothing more than to get her ears pierced and sport some flashy studs?  You can hold off on the pierced ears a few more years thanks to Poppy Drop Earrings. They work like temporary tattoos, which means she won’t lose them and can easily change them to match her outfit. Choose from a handful of collections, which include flowers, peace signs and cute little bugs.

Did you get some good ideas? Watch for our next post for some great fodder for building your own Mommy Wish List to whisper into Santa’s ear!

UrbanSitter has not been paid to feature any of the products shown above. These are personal favorites of the editors of the UrbanSitter blog and do not reflect endorsement by UrbanSitter, Inc.

How About a Family Trip to Washington DC this Fall?

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Our nation’s capital is an awesome place for a family get-away, especially in the fall when the humidity has subsided and the city is abuzz with excitement post-election. Surprisingly, Washington DC can be a relatively inexpensive family trip, as the majority of its many museums are free, and it’s pretty darn kid-friendly, too.

Need another reason to go? UrbanSitter is there! We’ve expanded to provide families in the DC area with reliable, trustworthy sitters they can book quickly and easily. Why not let us find you a sitter for a night out while you’re in the area? It’s just as easy as booking a sitter at home.

Below we’ve highlighted a few hot attractions to take the family – a couple you likely haven’t heard of – and just for you, we’ve also included suggestions for a presidential night out without the kids. Check these out:

Kids Euro Festival

You need to act quickly if you don’t want to miss this groovy international festival. It’s only running through November 14th. The festival is presented by the 27 European Union Member States, each offering a taste of its homeland. There are performances, workshops and screenings for children, storytelling, and puppet, dance and magic shows. Some performances require reservations. All are free. Check web site for schedule and to purchase tickets.


The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities.  The museums can be overwhelming for anyone, especially kids, so do a bit of homework to determine which few you’ll visit this time and save the rest for your next visit (kinda like a trip to DisneyWorld). There are some astonishing attractions that will blow the socks off your kids. Consider a few of these:

  • A 70-million year old dinosaur egg, dinosaur skeletons and a Hope Diamond at the National History Museum, the most visited history museum in the world.
  • Live children’s theater at the Discovery Theater. Shows are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. See the current schedule of performances. Tickets are $6 per adult, $5 per child and $4 for Smithsonian Resident members. You may purchase tickets in advance by calling (202) 633-8700.
  • The largest collection of spacecraft, awesome planetarium shows and Hubble Space Telescope test vehicle at the National Air and Space Museum.
  • The Giant Pandas and the Elephant Trails at the very kid-friendly National Zoo.

Before you go, explore with your kids the Smithsonian’s web site created for kids. It’s informative, interactive and very cool.

The Washington Monument

The white obelisk is one of the most recognized landmarks in the country. It’s especially fitting to visit near election time, since the memorial honors our first US President, George Washington. What a great visual for a mini history lesson your kids will long remember. Spend some time at the base of the building, letting kids count the fifty flags symbolizing our 50 states, then take the elevator 555 feet to the top for a bird-eye view of the city. It’s spectacular!

Historic National Theatre

The Historic National Theatre holds “Saturday Morning at the National,” a free performance series designed for kids age four and up. Performances range from puppet, magic, music and ballet. Seating is limited and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes before show time. Check website for performance schedule. Show times: 9:30 am and 11 am.

Don’t Forget Date Night!

Your kids will undoubtedly be tuckered out after a jam-packed day in DC. Let a sitter put them to bed early while you hit the town. Where to go? You ‘ll feel like a real First Lady when you pick one of these hot restaurants where the Obamas reportedly celebrated Michelle’s past two birthdays:

  • The Source. This Wolfgang Puck high-end eatery located next to Newseum, hence its name, is a three-story, modern architectural wonder. It’s earned many awards for its food and dining experience. The downstairs lounge offers a more casual, Japanese Izakaya-style menu, which includes sushi, sashimi and noodle dishes (and kobe sliders diners rave about). Upstairs is a finer affair with contemporary interpretations of Asian dishes. The wine and sake menus are outstanding, as are the floor-to-ceiling windows with a view.
  • Equinox. Todd Gray’s Equinox is one of the first to embrace sustainability practices, including eating local, when it opened in 1999. Its cuisine is mid-Atlantic done clean and modern with a Northern Italian twist. Reviewers consistently mention the tasting menu and upscale comfort foods as the best picks on the menu. How does it feel? It’s minimalist and slick, but anything but cold, thanks to a glass fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a stunning marble bar. Even if you don’t spot the Obamas there, we hear it’s quite a hot spot for people watching.

What are you waiting for?! DC is calling.

Need a DC babysitter? Sign up for a free account and search by date & time to find available sitters on

Educational Apps Your Kids Will Beg to Play

Now that you’ve downloaded the new UrbanSitter Mobile App for yourself, how about adding a new app to your phone or tablet for your kids? It’s likely the old stand-bys aren’t holding your kids’ attention like they used to.

Wondering how to find a game that’s fun to play and is also more than just candy for little brains? While experts are on the fence about whether or not little kids should be playing with apps, most agree that the best apps are those that encourage creativity, and feature colors, shapes, numbers and the good’ole ABCs.

So, forget Angry Birds, and check out 7 sure-fire apps that are sure to capture your kids’ attention and teach them a thing or two, too:

ABC Zooborns

This app features adorable photos, videos and interactive scenes of baby animals that on their own are worth the download. While its design is award-winning, its educational value is quite praise-worthy, too. It teaches about animals and conservation, links letters to words, builds vocabulary, and certainly entertains. By Peapod Labs LLC, $2.99. Ages 2 and up.


Scholastic’s new e-reading app for your PC, iPad or tablet, is fun, educational and interactive, providing your children with their own shelves of well curated books; tools, like a dictionary; and games. The download comes with five free books. By Scholastic, free. Ages 3-12.

Letter School

This very cool app has won all sorts of awards, including a top 10 ranking in iTunes Educational Category. It lets kids practice writing their letters right on the screen. The bold graphics help guide their finger through the ABCs, lower and upper case, and numbers 1-10. By Boreaal, $3. Ages 3 and up.

Rocket Math

Another award-winner, this app for young and older kids is a math practice session disguised as a game. For younger kids, it covers counting, addition and subtraction, and for older ones it dives into the tougher stuff, even entry-level algebra principles. By Dan Russell-Pinson, free. Ages 4-12.

Stack the States

Here’s a wildly popular app that finds a way to make learning the 50 states and their capitals fun. You answer questions about the state correctly to win the state, then rotate it and find its place on the US map, like a puzzle. By Dan Russell-Pinson, $.99. Ages 6 and up.

Toca Doctor HD

This is a puzzle game that teaches kids about the human body (anatomically correct, mostly) and keeping it healthy. They can solve medical problems (like a runny nose), give shots, remove splinters, and feed the patient healthy foods to ward off germs.  By Toca Boca, $3.99. Ages 2+ (with a 2-4 year old sweet spot).

Math Doodles

The three games in this app are attractive to kids who may not love math, but who love puzzles and want to solve things. The puzzles created look like doodles, and are solved through basic math and creative thinking.  By Carstens Studios, $3. Ages 4 and up.

Need a babysitter tonight? Download the free UrbanSitter iPhone app.

7 Pumpkin Projects for Little Ones

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

There’s a pretty good chance you’ve taken your kids to a pumpkin patch, farmer’s market or even a grocery store this weekend, and are now living with a menagerie of pumpkins, little and big. Do you realize you’re sitting on a goldmine of kid craft potential?!

Bring your pumpkins to the table, gather your craft supplies, call a friend or two to make a fun play date out of it, and get down to business! Not the crafty type or invited more than a few friends? Call in a sitter to help!

Here are 7 of our favorite pumpkin projects:

Gourd FamilyStack miniature pumpkins to build a replica of your own family.  The gourd people on are made by gluing natural materials, such as acorns, nuts, leaves, and flowers… which means you can start your project by taking a nature walk to gather supplies.

Giggly Ghoul: They’ll be giggling so hard, they’ll have a hard time finishing this one. Talk about bang for your buck – insert two thumbtacks for eyes,  carve out a mouth and insert removable teeth. How can these not have you in stitches?!

Fall Leaves + Pumpkin = Perfect decoration for the table, foyer or front porch: Gather gorgeous fall leaves and dry them under a book for several days. Brush decoupage glue on a pumpkin (white is especially nice). Arrange the leaves on the pumpkin’s surface, cutting small slits along the edges of the leaves as you go, so they’ll fit the pumpkin’s contours. Coat the decorated surface in decoupage glue.

Message on a Pumpkin: Put on your thinking caps and come up with a fun message to write/paint/glue on your pumpkins. How about your family name (with a pumpkin for each letter), or a spooky Halloween shout-out like “Boo,” “Beware,” or “Who Goes There?!” You can cater to your kids’ ages and abilities, keeping it simple with glitter glue or stepping it up by glue-gunning buttons, acorns or candy to spell out your message.

Give Thanks: How about making a festive vessel for a bouquet of fall flowers? Clean out the insides of your pumpkin (save the seeds for snack time), and insert a handful of fall flowers or branches. You can make it a spooky treat (and a bigger project) by first painting the pumpkin, then giving it a face. Don’t carve out too much, as you’ll want to fill it with a bit of water if you hope to make it last.

Talking Pumpkin: This one will get the neighborhood trick-or-treaters talking! Carve a face for your pumpkin, scary or silly will work. Instead of making a removable top, cut a hole in the bottom. Once cleaned and carved, sit your masterpiece atop a baby monitor. Voila, you have a talking pumpkin!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Wait, don’t throw out that muck! Make a toasty snack of pumpkin seeds. It’s as simple as digging through the strings and pulp – what better job for a crew of little hands – and cleaning off the seeds. Spread the pumpkin seeds on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Yum!

Need a sitter for the pre- or post-Halloween weekend? Log on to UrbanSitter and search for a babysitter by date & time.

Five Fun Back-to-School Books

You might be the kind of lucky parent who has a child who jumps in the car or rushes off the school bus anxious to tell you all about her day, and doesn’t let you leave her room at night until she unleashes even her tiniest worries. If not, you’re likely frustrated with asking your child about her day and getting little more than a shrug or a mumbled, “fine.”

Want a great tool for getting your child to share details about her day and open up about any anxieties and feelings she may have about school? Start a dialogue by reading a book together. Hearing a story about a subject she can relate to is an easy way to start talking about what happens in her own day. It’ll give you the perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper and calm any worries before they build.

Check out these fun, conversation starters that are ideal for little ones starting school for the first time:

First Day Jitters
Julie Danneberg (Author), Judith Dufour Love (Illustrator)

A fun, surprising story about the classic anxieties of going to school for the first time, and the realization that children aren’t the only ones to have butterflies in their bellies (the teacher does, too!).

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
Joseph Slate (Author), Ashley Wolff (Illustrator)

A colorful, well-illustrated introduction to Kindergarten with the added bonus of ABC practice.


David Goes To School
By David Shannon

David breaks all the rules at school, keeping his teacher on her toes with his eyebrow-raising shenanigans. In the end, he makes it all right and goes home with a satisfying gold star.

By Kevin Henkes

A sweet story about a sensitive little girl who feels left out and is teased because of her long, funny name. An eccentric, loved-by-all teacher shows her the value in being different and makes her the star.

Splat the Cat: Back to School, Splat!
By Ron Scotton

Especially fun for dedicated Splat the Cat fans. Even parents think Splat is pretty darn funny.

Books are also great to stock up on for a night with the babysitter. Find your next babysitter on UrbanSitter.

UrbanSitter’s Top Ten NYC Babysitters

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the article The Wall Street Journal published Saturday profiling UrbanSitter’s #1 NYC Babysitter, “The Queen of All Babysitters.”

UrbanSitter’s Abby Berger was applauded as “the city’s most popular, in-demand, top-recommended babysitter.”

Who else makes the list of Top 10 Most Popular Babysitters in NYC?

Here’s a glimpse of‘s most frequently booked babysitters in New York. We think you’ll agree from their impressive profiles and glowing reviews from parents that their popularity among NYC families is no surprise.

Top 10 Most Popular Babysitters in New York City:

Sign up for UrbanSitter to book one of these great sitters and many others!

Round Up: A Luxury Vacation with More than a Little Something for the Kids

The Wall Street Journal published an article this week about luxury hotels adding more kid-friendly services in order to meet the demand of parents and grandparents who are bringing little ones to high-end hotels and resorts more than ever before.

The article reminded me of a trip we took with our then 9-month, 3 and 6 year-old children. It was a family wedding at a Beaches resort in Turks and Caicos. While I wouldn’t call it a luxury hotel experience, the place was incredibly family-friendly, our kids’ favorites being the swim-up ice cream bar and dinner-and-movie nights at the kids club. With our kids having so much fun, we didn’t feel guilty about sending them off to the “childcare,” and we were able to truly have a vacation, enjoying some quiet time by the pool and a few adults-only dinners.

The hotel industry has finally caught on. Parents today would happily step up the family vacation and pay a little more to stay at a high-end hotel, as long as they felt it was enjoyable for the kids.

Here’s our round up of the most impressive hotel offerings for kids, many taken from the WSJ and others are own favorites:

  • Hyatt just weeks ago rolled out a new kids’ menu with adult-style meals based on fresh, organic ingredients rather than the ubiquitous frozen chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. The menu was developed with collaboration from Alice Waters.
  • Costanoa Lodge outside of San Francisco bills itself as an eco-friendly adventure resort. They have a fantastic kids club centered on exploring tide pools.
  • Rosewood and some Ritz Carlton hotels offer spa services for kids, including a Princess Fizzy Pedicure at Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas.
  • You have less to pack and carry thanks to Mandarin Oriental providing baby strollers and organic crib sheets.
  • Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA, offers outdoor science experiments and locally inspired art projects for kids.
  • Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Cape Cod sports a pirate ship water park and treasure chest-shaped ball pit, in addition to twice-a-day ice cream by the pool for kids and a mini kids camp for 2-4 year olds.
  • Rose Buds Program by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts incorporates Montessori elements in its 17 kids programs world-wide, allowing them to offer truly educational fun.
  • Sea Island, a resort on the coast of Georgia, carefully recruits a special team of college students, selected for their leadership skills and enthusiasm, to serve as role models for young guests at its impressive Camp Cloister.
  • Esperanza, an Auberge resort in Cabo San Lucas, allows kids to “adopt” baby sea turtles and release them on the beach.

As an additional service to guests with kids, most hotels are willing to book a babysitter to watch your children in your room. For a more personalized, often less expensive alternative, try UrbanSitter to select and book a sitter while you’re away from home.

Contributed by UrbanSitter blogger and mom of three, Dawn Van Osdell.

Family-Friendly Weekend Get-Aways – Let’s Go Camping!

This summer, City Moms are getting back to nature! According to our insiders, more and more urban families are choosing camping as their number one pick for a family-friendly weekend get-away.

We’ve gathered a list of our favorite family camping spots in Northern and Southern California, New York, and Chicago, and what to expect so you, too, can pack up your crew and spend a summer night or two under the stars.

Not convinced “roughing it” is for you? Lynn Perkins, an UrbanSitter founder and mom of twin boys insists, “There is no better bonding experience than sleeping in a tent together as a family. Camping is a great chance for parents to unplug from their jobs, get back to nature, and learn new things with their kids. It also gives everyone a much needed break from screen time.”

Not to worry, we’ve also included a few picks for those who aren’t cut out for tenting it!

Camping around the NYC Area

Both of these camping spots are about a two-hour drive from NYC.

Taconic State Park in New York’s Copake Falls region. Families choose Taconic for its convenience and safety, including a nice beach where the kids can swim and easy trails for the whole family to hike. In addition to campsites, Taconic also offers well-equipped cabins with running water, electricity and full kitchens for those who enjoy a pretty big step up from a tent. The park boasts a network of trails that are fantastic for family bike rides.

Insider Tip: Book well in advance, and if you’re hoping for one of the cabins, know that you must book 7-day or 14-day reservations during the peak summer season.

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park in Putnam County, NY, is a big hit thanks to its large, sandy beach at Canopus Lake. It’s a great place to swim, fish, rent a rowboat, and enjoy a picnic lunch at the nearby picnic area.

Insider Tip: Keep Fahnestock top of mind for a winter getaway, too. Fahnestock Winter Park offers excellent sledding and is a great place for the whole family to try snowshoeing.

Camping in Southern California

San Elijo State Beach on the San Diego Coast provides all the thrills of camping and a day at the beach, rolled into one, easy to reach location. By day, families can build sand castles and play in the reef-protected waters. When the sun goes down, build a bonfire, roast marshmallows and teach your kids camp songs. Clean restrooms, a snack bar and camp store make it especially easy on families.

Insider Tips:
* The secret is out on San Elijo as a top choice for families. Book 6 months in advance.
* If you need a break from nature, Wan Pizza is a close-by bite to eat. The pizza is delicious, and the waiters bring kids pizza dough, instead of crayons, to play with while waiting for their food.

The Observatory Campground at Mt. Palomar in San Diego County is a top pick for its spectacular star gazing and learning opportunities, thanks to its proximity to the Palomar Observatory, a world-class center of astronomy research operated by the California Institute of Technology. But, it’s not just about seeing the stars, although star gazing is truly reason enough to visit. Plan on hiking during the day, and spending lots of time around a campfire in the evening. There’s an optimal view of the sky thanks to specially cleared camp spots. Here’s your chance to try out your campfire cooking skills. Eating around a campfire beats sitting in a restaurant with restless kids any day! Do your homework for preparing easy, kid-pleasing campfire meals. And don’t forget the s’mores!

Insider Tips:
* Bring a telescope!
* The 4.2 mile (round trip) hike to the Observatory may be tough for a preschooler.
* Remember to bring bug spray in the summer.

Camping in Northern California

Costanoa Lodge, an eco-adventure resort in Pescadero, CA, is a hands-down favorite. It’s just a bit more than an hour’s drive from San Francisco, and is situated on what is arguably the most ruggedly beautiful stretch of California coast. The property offers several levels of accommodations to fit a range of  “camping” comfort requirements – campgrounds for serious campers and tent bungalows or lodge-style rooms for the less adventurous.

This resort truly takes the planning and coordination pressure off parents by providing scheduled hikes, kids camps, horseback riding, and live music for awesome family entertainment during the summer. There’s even a general store onsite. It’s unlikely you’ll want to leave the property, but if you do, a family visit to Pie Ranch, Swanton Berry Farm, and Pigeon Point Lighthouse are short treks away.

Insider Tip: Keep your eyes pealed for wildlife sightings, as wildlife is abundant on the property, including many rare and endangered species, and they are sure to be a highlight of your family’s weekend.

Olemar RV Resort and Campground near the Point Reyes National Seashore is also just an hour outside SF, and provides a gorgeous mix of grassy, open meadows, wooded area and plenty of wildlife. There is a lot to do as a family, including hiking, biking and just exploring, whether on the grounds or the nearby shore. The campground has newly renovated restrooms and showers and a new playground for the kids. It’s walking distance or a short drive to Point Reyes Station for groceries, restaurants or shopping if you need a reprieve from your tent.

Insider Tip: Watch out for raccoons! There are many, so secure your belongings before heading to bed.

Camping near Chicago

Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris, Illinois, is the nearest campsite (about seven miles) from the spectacular Goose Lake in Goose Lake Prairie State Park. It’s true camping style with no extra hand-holding and few amenities other than the Great Outdoors. Families love it for its natural beauty and easy accessibility – just an hour outside of Chicago – and have a blast fishing and canoeing in one the several ponds and Nettle Creek, which gently flows around the park’s perimeter.

Insider Tip: While it’s very inexpensive (just $6/day to camp), the campsites aren’t a park-and-camp experience. Plan to walk about ½ mile from your car to your campsite.

Hickory Hideaway at Lake Carroll in Shannon, Illinois, is the pick if you prefer a little more luxe in your nature getaway. It offers whirlpool cottages and family country cottages, as well as luxury cabins equipped with a jacuzzi, fireplace, king-size bed and wet bar! Guests can also use a clubhouse with grills and picnic tables, along with bench swings and a fire pit. Drive time from Chicago is about 2.5 hours.

Insider Tip:  Chat with the owners while you are there. They are incredibly helpful, and can maximize the family-friendliness of your trip by providing recommendations on nearby restaurants and even providing your kids with movies and games.

New Crop of Children’s Books Makes it Easy and Fun to Read to Kids, Everyday

Reading aloud to our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. When we snuggle up with our kids and a good book, not only are we giving them our time and attention, we’re also giving them the skills that build the foundation for reading ability and school readiness.

We all learn about language and the world around us every time we read or are read to, even babies. Reading to little ones teaches them about the printed word, the concept of reading from left to right and turning pages to continue a story. Research shows that books, even children’s books, contain up to 50 percent more words than kids hear in spoken conversations, including on TV. Exposure to more words stimulates our kids’ language skills and builds vocabulary, while helping to grow their curiosity and memory.

Summertime gives us a bit of a reprieve from the tight schedules of the school year and often provides a wonderful opportunity to read to our kids throughout the day, instead of just at the usual before-bed story time. When the kids are acting up, whether out of boredom, fatigue, or just plain Pesky Kid Syndrome, reading aloud to them always ends the battle. A great story can entertain them, take the edge off whatever argument was ensuing, and keep them calm for at least ten minutes.

If you’re less than thrilled by the thought of reading your kids’ tattered standbys,  yet again, check out a few of these newly-released books for kids:

Duckling Gets a Cookie
by Mo Willems
Duckling gets a cookie, and guess who’s jealous? Kids will love this new tale starring familiar characters.

Hugs from Pearl
by Paul Schmid
Pearl is a porcupine, which makes giving hugs a challenge. But she finds a way. Get to know Pearl in this sweet story.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
by Eric Litwin
Oh no, Pete lost one of his four groovy buttons! Count down with Pete in this new book featuring a beloved character.

Me Want Pet
by Tammi Sauer
Cave Boy desperately wants a pet. He tries many, including a wooly mammoth and a saber tooth tiger, but only one is just right.

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit
by Chris van Dusen
Randy’s not a baseball genius, but his science smarts allow him to save his entire town from a giant fireball!  Older toddlers will enjoy this one.

Reading to the kids is also a great activity to suggest to your sitter. Find & book babysitters at

Hot Spots to Take the Kids this Summer — UrbanSitter Round Up

We’re almost midway through the summer. Maybe the anticipation and novelty of the season and its associated freedom have waned a bit, and you’re starting to panic. “What do I do with these kids!?”

Chances are you’ve already taken advantage of many, if not most, of the family- friendly attractions in your area. But, if you’re lost in a summer brain fog and could use a reminder of some your area’s best bets for kids, we’ve compiled a Summer Hot Hits for Kids List.  We’ve dug deep for insider recommendations that may have escaped your radar.

San Francisco/Bay Area

The Jelly Belly Factory
Taking your kids on a tour through a working candy factory is an awesome excuse for a day trip. The factory is in Fairfield, only an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. It offers free tours, starting every 10 minutes from 9 am to 4 pm daily.

Randall Museum
One of SF’s hidden gems, few people seem to know about this fantastic children’s museum with breathtaking views. It’s educational, fun and free.

Yerba Buena Children’s Garden
The Children’s Garden (and its playground, carousel and fountains) outside the Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly known as Zeum) is a great place to play if you’re not up for a long visit or you don’t want to be indoors at the museum.

Children’s Fairyland
Perfect for young children (8 and under), Fairyland in Oakland has classic storybook sets, gentle rides, animals to pet, and live shows.  The park also has acres of beautiful gardens worth exploring, wandering and bringing a picnic to thoroughly enjoy.

The science and arts museum at the Palace of Fine Arts in SF can grab the attention of all kids.  Its mission is  to engage your child in science, art, and how the world works, and they do it through lots of interactive fun.


New York Aquarium
Find Nemo at The New York Aquarium with its daily sea lion show and interactive summer program, including a zip line and giant walk-through maze. Don’t miss the sea otters, penguins, and sharks!

Scholastic Store
Awesome, kid-focused store in SOHO offers a free Storytime for all ages. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 11 am, and special events on Saturdays.

Coney Island
Tried and true destination, no summer is complete without a trip to the iconic Coney Island. Carnival rides for kids of all ages, the famous Cyclone roller coaster for the older kids, and an old-timey boardwalk that makes everyone smile.

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
Escape the heat after an afternoon at Central Park by ducking into this midtown interactive science center. Kids love the hands-on, educational displays, and you’ll love that it’s absolutely free. Check their website for dates of special children’s screenings that are good for younger kids.

Los Angeles Area

Mother’s Beach
At Marina Park in Marina Del Rey, this beach earned its name for good reasons – gentle waves, shallow swimming area and lifeguard supervisions. It also has a grassy play area nearby.

Santa Monica Pier
Open 24 hours a day, everyday of the year, Santa Monica Pier never tires as a great option for everyone, families included. Take your dog along with the kids to watch the performers, rent bikes, have a picnic or catch the Twilight Concert Series.

Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City
Rides for little kids, big kids and those in between. Splurge and rent a cabana for your family to get a break from the sun while enjoying the Soak City water park.

There’s arguably no better place for fun, physical activity, rainy days included. Adventureplex in Manhattan Beach is a safe, structured play space packed with mazes, tunnels, rope courses, an outdoor rock climbing walls, an indoor gym and  a modern fitness room. Though the camps and classes fill up fast, they offer plenty of  daily events and activities, including a Parent’s Night Out on Friday and Saturday evenings.


Circus Zircus at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier
Navy Pier might be too touristy for most locals, but don’t forget about the fun exhibits at the Children’s Museum.

Story Time and Music at Farm-in-the-Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo
Free Admission to Lincoln Park  Zoo and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is right next door. (Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:15 am and 10am)

Family Fun Festival at Millennium Park
TONS of great FREE kids programming throughout the summer.

Chicago Park District
Search their website for water playground and family swim times at outdoor swimming pools in your neighborhood.

Movies in the Park
This season’s series features 176 screenings of current and classic movies in 128 citywide parks through Oct. 26. Free admission. Screenings start at dusk.

Have your kids pick their favorite activity from the list above and let your summer sitter take them there! Visit UrbanSitter to find dozens of sitters with availability all summer long.