Our Top Picks for Books, Apps, Websites, Products
1. Simplify plane travel
Lugging a car seat onto a plane can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Now there's an easier way. Baby B'air ($34.95) flight vest approved by the Federal Aviation Association safely secures a baby to an adult's lap by connecting to the seatbelt. Parents can hold, feed - even change - baby while flying and reduce the squirming and potential for baby falling. babybair.com.
2. Take a 360 virtual trip
Planning an international family trip? The Virtual Travel app offers more than 6,000 360-degree panoramas of 30-plus countries. Choose what you want to see by country, city, new additions, "best of" panoramas, or categories of attractions, such as ancient art, castles and shopping. There is also a "For Children" category. After you click on the panorama, use your finger to "push" the scene in the direction you want to go. Available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (version 4.3 or later) or Android devices (version 1.5 and up). Free.
3. Learn fun facts about countries
The Not-For-Parents Travel Book: Cool Stuff to Know About Every Country in the World (Lonely Planet, $19.99) is packed with interesting and unusual facts about all of the countries. Discover foods, customs, a "crazy fact" and more specialized content about each country, such as the "Top 5 Things You Won't Find in Singapore." (Chewing gum is one - it's illegal!) Even though the cover says this book is not for parents, you won't be able to put it down either. Learn more at shop.lonelyplanet.com/. Hardcover. Ages 8 and up.
4. Bring back car games
Long family road trips try even the most tolerant parent's patience. With the Family Car Game app, young travelers can learn how to play many of the same car games you enjoyed as a child. Choose from 100 fun family games everyone can play in the car - no equipment necessary - and sort by age, type and other categories.
Popular games include Grandma Is So Weird, Inky Pinky and Love Is Like a Shovel. You'll also find classics such as Name That Tune, The Name Game and All Together Now.
Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (version 4.0 or later) or Android devices (version 2.2 and up). $1.99.
A new app, pl8s by jrbapps, updates the classic license plate game. When you see a license plate, tap on the state it's from to learn an educational fact about the state and see how many points you've earned. Available for iPods, iPhones and iPads, version 5.0 and later. 99 cents.
5. Parenting Toolbox: Explore the parkway - online
Thanks to a collaborative project through the UNC-Chapel Hill library system, you can now explore the Blue Ridge Parkway digitally before you drive it. Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, available at docsouth.unc.edu/blueridgeparkway, presents photographs, maps, news articles, oral histories and essays documenting development and construction of the parkway's North Carolina segment. Explore the parkway by location, date and subject in a fun, educational way to share its beauty and history with your children.