Thursday, October 23, 2014
Traveling with a Baby
We've taken a few long trips with Tennyson and learned a few tricks along the way.
1. Understand that car rides are hard on a little one, so take frequent breaks- Unlike adults, an infant is strapped down into that seat. There's no shifting or adjusting of position. Frequent breaks are essential. I like to aim for stopping and getting him out for a bit every 1.5-3 hours. Yes, it makes for an even longer trip, but you do what you have to do in caring for the baby.
2. Classical music is magical- I've tried playing classical music with other babies in the car and it had little to no effect on them. For Tennyson, it's magical. We turn the volume up to make our car a moving orchestra. The more strings or piano the piece has the better. It's amazing how he'll suddenly stop what he's doing and concentrate on the sounds. He can be in a full fit and will tune in so intensely to the music. We've traveled several times with one or two particular pieces on repeat. Perhaps we have a future music man.
3. Have a variety of toys and books- You don't have to have an armful of toys just to pacify the baby when traveling. The key is rotation. I pack a handful of toys, particularly clutching toys at this stage. He gets about two at a time, and then periodically I trade those for another set of two. The rotation allows the toys to always be fresh and something new to explore. For really long trips, I will purchase a new toy or two just for the ride. After quite a few hours on the road, the new toy helps revitalize his interest and ability to continue riding.
4. Be the backseat buddy- I currently ride in the backseat with Tennyson on long trips. It's a bit awkward and I feel like I've suddenly lost twenty years in age, but I'm better able to interact with him there. I can play and talk with him, and read him books. It would be awfully lonely back there if not, especially since his seat faces the back instead of the front where we are. Later, he and his sibling will be backseat buddies.
5. Be prepared for mealtimes- Our recent trip was the first once since he's been eating solid foods. I make his food homemade at home, and wanted to continue offering him the same while traveling. I purchased a set of "Really Little Green Pouches," which are reusable food pouches. I then simply cooked his food like normal, filled the pouches, and then froze them. The frozen pouches also served the purpose of being ice packs in the cooler. Each evening, I pulled out the pouch(es) needed for the next day to allow it/them to thaw. Any additional thawing could be accomplished with a simple bowl of warm water.
6. A travel bed maintains personal sleeping space- I purchase a basic pack n' play specifically for traveling. We don't co-sleep in our home, and so the pack n' play continues to support the notion of his bed vs. our bed. He has slept in it wonderfully no matter where we've been. Next year, I'll need to purchase another pack n' play and carry two of them when traveling for both our children! haha
7. Maintain routine(s) as best as possible- Even when traveling, I try my best to maintain his regular eating and sleeping times. I don't believe in making a baby wait to eat until it's convenient for the adults to eat. Nutritious foods tend to slide when traveling or on vacation, but it's important to keep in mind the negative impact of junk (or nutritionally empty) food. Proper bedtime is also something that tends to get pushed back while traveling or on vacation. I don't believe in keeping a baby up past bedtime just because it's a vacation. A hungry and sleepy baby will quickly make that vacation less of a vacation. Properly caring for the baby is priority.