Book offers 'Little Lifesavers' for parents

Kerry Colburn didn't write "Mama's Big Book of Little Lifesavers" (Chronicle, $14.95) to offer philosophical theories of child-rearing or supply solutions to complex problems.

Instead, as the book's subtitle spells out, she just wants to give new parents "398 ways to save your time, money and sanity." Here are five tips from her book, which you can buy to get the 393 others.

* No. 47: When your kid is moving very slowly, and you're in a hurry, turn it into a game to pick up the pace. Writes Colburn: "Challenge her to hop over or count cracks in the sidewalk, start stomping like a dinosaur or marching like you're in a parade."

And you can always challenge her to a race.

* No. 50: Chop up baby food more efficiently by designating a pair of kitchen shears as "food scissors."

* No. 136: "While I'm working on my laptop," writes a contributor named Ann, "my daughter 'types' on an old computer keyboard I was going to throw away."

* No. 300: "Keep a low drawer or cupboard stocked with safe cooking-related items," such as plastic measuring spoons or a salad spinner. They'll amuse your toddler while you're preparing meals.

* No. 384: Simone, another contributor, offers this helpful distraction for kids on extended road trips: "Wrap everything with wrapping paper," she writes, such as snacks, coloring books, crayons.

In addition to the 398 tips, author Kerry Colburn offers bonus pages devoted to single-themed topics. Like masking tape, which she says parents should carry wherever they go.

Why? Masking tape will let you: Make "a commando bib out of a restaurant napkin," or cover electric outlets at home, at a friend's house or in a motel, or attach butcher paper to any floor or table for art projects.