Tips for travelling with a baby

26 Feb
d in swing

D harnessing the power of the two super heroes behind her

Caitlyn and I just got back from 10 days away in sunny California. We stayed at my cousin’s sprawling and beautiful house in Camarillo, and Baby D was surrounded by seven cousins under the age of eight. In just a week, she learned how to sit up solidly on her own, suddenly became excited about solid food and started blowing raspberries (usually with a mouthful of food). We managed to have a great time, even though I got hit with the triple whammy of a gastro bug, a head cold and an extremely heavy post-partum period (sorry for the overshare, but we keep it real over here). Daphne also started the trip with a nasty chest cold that soon settled into an intermittent dry cough. Not enough to make her seriously ill, but irritating enough to wake her up several times throughout the night.

I also learned a few lessons about what works and what doesn’t when travelling with an eight-month old baby. Let this be a lesson to you:

1. Pack heavy

I have never been good at packing light, but when it comes to travelling with a baby, I bring everything I think we could possibly need. This includes a white noise machine, a baby monitor, multiple medications, several changes of clothes and a bag full of toys. This all came in handy when we had to put the baby to sleep in unfamiliar environments and keep her entertained during a 12-hour day of travelling. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to pay extra for additional luggage, but it was worth it.

2. Bring more diapers than you think you need

If you can believe it, I somehow forgot to refill the diaper bag for our journey home. So just as we hit the Toronto airport for our connecting flight (and a long delay), we ran out. Luckily, we were able to procure over-priced, too-big emergency diaper rations at the airport. But don’t make the same mistake I did. Seriously.

3. Strollers are for luggage (or: Wear your baby!)

Once again, I was so grateful for modern baby-wearing technology on this trip. We recently stopped using our believed Beco Gemini, as 20-pound Daphne was getting a little big for it. We are now using the amazing Manduca — a buckle baby carrier that is super ergonomic and easy-to use. While we did put her in the umbrella stroller a couple of times in the airport and at the zoo, D spent most of the time in the Manduca and was happy as a clam. We popped her in there at the first sign of fuss, and she usually fell asleep within five minutes. We had strangers in airports approaching us to tell us how “good” our baby was, especially when we were into hour 15 of a hellish commute home. While it’s true that we have been blessed with a baby with a lovely temperament, much of this has to do with the fact that we work hard to meet her needs. Baby-wearing allows her to have the closeness and cuddles she craves, while giving our arms a rest. It means we can dash across a busy airport, while bottle feeding and/or bouncing her at the same time.

4. There will be vomit (or: Pack three extra shirts)

Perhaps the most glamourous moment of our travels was when I stood up to depart our flight from Ottawa to Toronto, clipped Daphne into the baby carrier, and was quickly covered head-to-toe in vomit. She puked directly into my cleavage, soaking both of us with regurgitated formula. While I had packed several changes of clothing for her, I had only tossed one extra shirt for me into my bag at the last minute. Thank goodness. I bought another one in the airport as an extra insurance policy. Do as I say, not as I did. Bring extra clothes for both of you.

5. Be flexible about sleeping arrangements

Daphne has been sleeping in her own crib in her own room for three months now and until last week had never spent any significant amount of time sleeping in our bed with us. When she was tiny, I was too scared I would crush her. And as she got older, she associated our bed with playtime, not sleep. But after a disorienting day of travel, our sick baby needed comfort. We pulled her into bed with us, and she slept peacefully between us, with her arms outstretched to maintain contact with both moms. For the rest of the trip, she spent the early morning hours snuggled up with us. It was blissful. And when we got home, she slept soundly in her crib once again. I am happy that occasional co-sleeping can work for us now. I hope this helps all of us get through her next significant teething episode.

6. At borders, prepare for the worst and hope for the best

Anticipating an argument over our family status and DOMA with a US border official, I prepared a baggie with all of our passports, D’s long form birth certificate and our marriage license. We dutifully filled out two customs forms as we crossed the border (because America doesn’t recognize our family and won’t allow us to be included on one form). But to our surprise, the female border official accepted one card from Caitlyn, and welcomed us to the US without any interrogation about Daphne’s parentage. Win!

We had a great time, despite the hellish travel delays, sickness and jet lag. Spending time in the sun with family is so worth it.

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2 Responses to “Tips for travelling with a baby”

  1. Debra Smolkin February 26, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Ariel,
    That is such a great article. Debi

  2. Sherry February 26, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    A wonderful sharing and bonding week was had by all of us. I loved having the “fan” here and look forward to many more visits. My home is your home. Hugs and kisses to my little cousin D and her Moms.

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