Toddler Travel

We’ve been traveling with our son since he was about six months old. Anyone who tells you that it’s easier to travel with an infant before they’re able to squirm out of your arms is telling the truth. The only exception is that you’re usually too tired to enjoy the trip. There are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that have made a difference in how we travel.

1. Pacifiers, or drinking/nursing. The reason why many babies cry on planes? Their ears hurt. They can’t clear them the way we can, and their best option is crying, and also, they’re in pain. Sucking on something, or drinking something, can help release the pressure in their ears.

2. If you haven’t purchased a seat for your child, get to the airport early, and make sure you’re one of the first people up at gate’s desk. With all boarding passes for your party in hand, politely ask one or all of your party to be seated by an empty seat. If there is space on a plane, they will likely accommodate you.

3. CARES Child Airplane Safety Harness – Now that you have an empty seat next to you, with this easy-to-travel with harness can strap your toddler into the empty seat you just procured. Our son knocked out for two hours on a six hour flight, and was very happy most of the time. This harness is FAA approved, and easy to install. My other recommendation is to make sure you’re on an airline that still does family pre-boarding. United does not do family pre-boarding.

I’m sure there are more tips, but these are the three that really got us through our last bit of air travel. Good luck, and bon voyage!

Mom in Search of Peers

I’ve always gone my own way, for better or for worse. I don’t take too well to rules, unless I agree with those rules. You might say, I’m a woman of principle, and unfortunately, principles that I’ve cobbled together from my own experience. I stick around with a philosophy just long enough to take what I want, and once I start to get that One True Way feeling, I go back on the road and keep looking. There are great ideas out in the world. Useful, pragmatic ideas and principles can be found worldwide, along with a fair amount of bullshit. Even good ideas can have their zealots, and ruin it for everyone else. I am a pragmatist with anarchistic tendencies.

I’ve never had a guru. There have been a handful of people that have ended up as quasi-mentors or actual mentors, but the last one I recall having was in high school, and she was fired for being a bitchy badass (or so I remember.) I chucked organized religion when I failed to find a group that suited me, or could give actual answers to my questions. I’m not always proud of my stubbornness. You see, I’d like to have a guru, teacher, or some person or ideal that I could trust to not be full if it. I’m sure there are people out there that fit the bill at least 85% of the time, which may be good enough for me. The fact is, I just haven’t found them yet.

This tendency to reject teachers extends to child-rearing philosophies. I’ve rejected pretty much every mommyblog I’ve come across because so many of them are full of self-absorbed, self-righteous, insecure ramblings that I wonder what this person was like before they had kids. I’ll admit, to engage in blogging is to engage in a certain amount of those things, but I find it particularly abrasive when the topic is children, and the million things you could possibly be getting wrong.

My parenting style has become much like my personal philosophy. I’ve listened to a lot of opinions, and as time has worn on, I’ve started rejecting more and more. I admit, it leaves me a little more blind than I’d like, because in the absence of local maternal figures, commercial TV, parenting magazines and mommyblogs, I’m just kind of going with it from what I’ve accumulated through cursory reads of books and blogs, doctors visits, and some gleanings from our parents’ group. What I’m finding is that I do want peers, or perhaps even mentors/helpers, but there’s so much bullshit that especially as a full-time awesome (aka mom) I don’t have the energy to find them.

The peers I long for are my philosophical peers. They are people who are pragmatists that walk the middle path. They are people that probably wouldn’t want to join a club that would have them as a member. And, I would like to say they have an aversion to anxiety, but I would like to make it clear that it would not be immunity to anxiety. Just an aversion, as in the case of reading a mommyblog that provokes anxiety, they immediately go BULLSHIT and close the page. And finally, my peers are those who have maintained their own structural integrity, but have started to integrate their child into their lives, versus integrating themselves into their child’s life. My life has definitely changed since having my kid, but I’m much the same as I was before, I just have another variable. It’s sometimes challenging, but for the most part, not more than I would have anticipated. (Especially after the rude awakening of motherhood after the first six months.)

The hardest part is to find focus to move forward, but that’s been a problem of mine with or without a kid. Let’s face it, I’ve got some ADHD tendencies, and unstructured time is not my friend. I’ve put some books on hold at the library, and I’ll be trying to take advantage of more community programs. As always, it’s a start – maybe I can find a

Happy Birthday, Son – A Year in Baby Consumerism

Fisher-Price Newborn Rock and Play SleeperSeriously, people. There is an entire industry that is waiting for you to have children so you will spend stupid amounts of money to help you sleep longer and make the transition to parenthood easier in our foolishly independent-focused society. My family has spent some of this ridiculous money. Here’s a list of my favorite things, which worked well for us. Amazon Prime has been a huge help, especially for midnight shopping frenzies while the kid is up and you don’t know how you’re going to be safe to drive the next day. When you can, buy used or borrow from a friend – but always check to see if the item has been recalled. For instance, a bassinet we borrowed had been recalled in 2009, and a stroller I nearly purchased from Craigslist was a recalled version (but they had been shipped the repair, though not installed.)

Also, my best advice to new moms: ignore all mom forums and stay away from baby focused websites. They will make you crazy. Seek real-time, real-mom support in your communities.

Here’s my Top Ten Consumer Choices for the First Year:

The Happiest Baby on the Block – The basics in this book are a lifesaver for the first three months. Read this book, if you can, before the baby is born. It’s seriously one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Which brings me to one of the keys of the Happiest Baby…
SwaddleMe velcro-enhanced swaddles – These are key for those times you’re too tired to re-swaddle using the swaddling techniques in Happiest Baby on the Block
Swaddle Cloths by aden + anais – you (or someone else!) can make swaddle cloths using a 4’x4′ piece of muslin or flannel, but if you just need to buy some to start, this is a great way to do it.
Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleeper, Yellow
– We used the older version of this as a bassinet for the first six months, especially useful for reflux. It was crucial to getting more sleep for us and our baby. Please note that there was a recent advisory regarding the older model, as some caregivers experienced mold growth after some use, as that the old version was harder to clean. More information here.
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump – I borrowed a Medela bump from a friend, and also rented a hospital grade pump. This was spendy, but wonderful to have if I needed to move around while pumping.
Maclaren Quest (and Raincover) – People laugh about how much you can spend on strollers, but the Maclaren is worth it, if you compare it to other strollers in its class. This folds easy, is light enough to carry and has a carrying strap. The rain cover is the easiest to deploy of all stroller covers I’ve tried. Skip the City Mini and pretty much any other stroller, and if you just buy one stroller, buy the Maclaren Quest.
Bugaboo Bee Stroller and Canopy and Bugaboo Baby Cocoon Light – This is an excessively expensive stroller. It’s great for around the neighborhood if you’re in a more urban center. I like the cocoon for making it into a mini-pram, but it’s still super compact, unlike other strollers.
Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher – We wanted to breast feed, but ran into supply issues. This was crucial, especially when traveling.
Ergo Carrier – This is a great carrier that works for the long haul. Definitely not for the totally new-born, but great once they hit 12 lbs.
Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Baby Carrier, Black – I loved my super-snuggly Moby for the first few months. I highly recommend it as a first carrier.