For grandparents or family members who live far away from the young ones in their lives, there's another way to stay connected: They can read bedtime stories that are delivered as Web videos.
Irvine resident Alison Sansone came up with the idea of Be There Bedtime Stories when her first niece, Abby, was born six years ago.
Sansone, 39, who doesn't have children of her own, didn't like it much that she wasn't part of Abby's life, who lives in Chicago with her family.
"I was just frustrated for being so far from her," Sansone said. "I came up with the idea that if I sent her a bedtime story every once and a while, she would recognize me and I'd be part of her development and she would know her auntie."
On http://www.betherebedtimestories.com users pick a story and press the record button. The website puts the story with the voice and offers a link that can be e-mailed to the youngsters, Sansone said.
Sansone began testing her website, which now has about 100 stories, in September. Although the plan was to launch the website a few years ago, the project was put on hold for a couple of years after the sudden death of her husband, she said.
For $11.99, customers can record and send a story to as many children as possible, and the story can be viewed unlimited times, Sansone said.
Now Abby has a sister, Cassie, 4, and both look forward to bedtime stories from their auntie.
"When I sent my 4-year-old niece her first story, she jumped up and wanted to talk to me," Sansone said. "She really was connected to that whole experience of watching me for 10 minutes."
Bedtime stories read by grandparents can last for decades and can even be read for future family generations, Sansone said.
The company is in the process of developing subscription packages, among other offers.
If you have no young ones in your life, perhaps you could help a military family stay connected by donating a bedtime story, Sansone said.
All donated stories are distributed through the Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization that provides help and support for military families.