Before his 1st birthday
This is the time for air travel and quiet, relaxing trips. The infant stage, believe it or not, is a travel opportunity. Babies sleep a lot -- and just about anywhere -- so you can catch the next plane to Cabo. "I took my three-month-old to Israel for two weeks to meet her great-grandparents, and it was awesome," says Ayala Livny, a mom from Somerville, MA. "She had no schedule, so she just slept when she was tired, and hung out with folks when she was awake." Many moms say they've taken advantage of their infant's chilled-out nature by renting a vacation house where the main event is lounging on the back patio. The lack of structure and the privacy are a boon if you're breastfeeding. Sandy Fernández, articles editor at Parenting, raves about a trip she took with her son, Diego, at 6 months to a beach bungalow at Villa Los Mapaches in Isla Holbox, Mexico. "Anyplace that's lounge-lizardy works wonders at this age," she says, because you'll be staying put and taking it easy.
Ages 1 to 3
This is the time for children's museums and outdoor pursuits. "Around this age, kids start to like the experience. They like doing something, touching something," says Marion Lindblad-Goldberg, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. She recommends kids' museums that have plenty of tactile things to paw and a calm, manageable environment. Holly Hughes, editor of Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up, used the scavenger-hunt approach when her kids were little. "We'd say, let's go to the museum and look for food! Or animals. Or we'd let them be the leader, deciding where we go in the museum and in what order." Seek out petting zoos or farms, with fuzzy lambs, chicks, and bunnies, and prickly hay to romp in. Picking fruit on a farm can be fun now, too, especially berries, which are low to the ground, easy to grab, sweet and make for really cute pictures.