We just returned from our trip to New York City and I couldn’t wait to share some pictures with you! Mostly though, I wanted to share our experience of traveling for the first time with the baby. Travel is definitely not the same anymore, yet we discovered that even New York City is a friendlier place when you have a baby with you.
It had been almost 8 months since I visited my colleagues and friends on the East Coast, as I was busy preparing for the arrival of baby Vir. This gave me an opportunity to plan a work trip cum mini-vacation to New York City. The last time I was in a flight, I was 5 months pregnant, flying to India for my brother’s wedding all excited and thrilled. Even though I was excited to meet my friends and colleagues, I was nervous as I was going to be travelling with a 3 month baby. Images from my past flight experiences with crying and howling babies in the plane flashed in front of me, reminding me how much I dreaded sitting next to a crying baby. I know first hand that the city can be intimidating to come with a baby as everything is spread out, you have to walk a lot and you aren’t sure what is baby friendly. It was nerve-racking thinking about issues like, baby fussiness on the plane, judging stares from strangers, changing diapers at a germy roadside bathroom or moving around in NYC with a stroller. Now there is no denying that a vacation with a baby is tougher than a vacation with just grownups, but in our case, the mini vacay turned out to be quite a pleasant experience.
I did a lot of research online, consulted many mom friends for travel advice and got a ‘go ahead’ from the pediatrician before I made the travel plans. The main bases one needs to cover are Eating , Sleeping and Getting Around. A well fed, rested and comfortable baby is usually less fussy or a happy one. “Babies can be surprisingly good travelers,” says Shelly Rivoli, author of Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers and Preschool-Age Children. “The major advantage is that they’re not very mobile yet.”
My first advice is Don’t over pack : I allowed myself plenty of time to pack the diaper bag. I thought through every possible scenario and packed all that stuff that I needed. In fact I shared my diaper bag pic on my instagram to get more input from all my mom followers. (You can also catch my daily updates there ) With an infant I think you need more stuff, yet I tried to leave as much behind as I could. I made sure I had minimum 3 days supply of clothing so that there was enough time to do laundry if needed. We didn’t over-pack diapers and wipes as it is easily available everywhere. But I made sure to carry at least 6 diapers in my diaper bag, allotting one per hour for travel time. I carried 4 pieces of Vir’s favorite Pacifier as they always tend to disappear and I was sure I would lose them, which I course I did! (I was too late in buying pacifier clips, highly recommend buying them) A solid supply of wipes and cleaning cloths are a must, as you never know of diaper blow out and spit ups, plus I used wipes to clean every surface close to the baby in NYC. Tip–I also made a small travel pouch with Vir’s bath and medicine supplies that I will need on all my trips, it is good to have it ready. In big baby gear items we carried the boppy pillow, car seat, a caddy stroller and the baby carrier. You can also rent these items (babysaway.com, rentittoday.com) but since it was my first time, I didn’t want to take any chances.
Hungry Baby is Grumpy Baby: As I am exclusively breast feeding, I made sure to carry my nursing scarf, an extra supply of pumped frozen milk packs ,my Madela breast pump, storage bottles and a cold pack to carry the frozen milk. I nursed Vir during takeoff and landing to avoid the ear pain due to cabin pressure change in the flight. Babies have narrower Eustachian tubes, and changes in cabin pressure during take-off and landing can cause ear pain for them. Swallowing helps relieve the pressure, and that can come in the form of nursing, a bottle, or a pacifier. While travelling around the city I always made sure Vir was fed before we left the hotel. I also carried some pumped milk and my nursing scarf every time, as you never know when duty calls.
Nap Time is essential for your Sanity : We booked the flight around Vir’s naptime and it totally worked, as he was cheerful in the morning flight and slept easily on the return night flight. I highly recommend carrying a pillow, as it makes it so much easier to feed, carry and lay the baby in your lap. Maintaining Vir’s nap times and sleeping routines daily was important to have a happy baby join us for our day trips. We made sure Vir was well rested before we left the hotel. And to avoid any fussiness we took short breaks every 2 hours to sit, feed and put him back to sleep. Of course we knew that there will be several breaks for changing diapers, stretching and wiggling so we planned our trips accordingly. Tip -I had made a list of stores and places convenient for feeding and diaper changing in the city.
Getting Around : The best bet to travel with a baby is in a car. However I wanted to gain the City mom experience and traveled in trains, cabs and even a boat with Vir. One of my biggest concerns was maneuvering the stroller around the crowded tourist spots, stores and restaurants. Thankfully we carried our small caddy stroller, as it was perfect for squeezing through the tight lanes of the shopping stores and light enough to carry. Baby wearing also worked out perfectly for us. I love wearing Vir in our babybjorn and it was extremely convenient during our day and night trips. We wore him mostly at crowded places like Times Square, Rockefeller center, Madison Avenue etc. Tip -I practiced wearing Vir much prior to our trip, to get him used to the feeling and to see if he would be comfortable in the carrier. At the same time I wanted to train my back with the carrier. So far, Vir loves being worn and it has definitely been fun carrying him around. Honestly, with some practice and a comfortable baby carrier it can feel like a breeze.
Adjusting our Mind set : I was mentally prepared that most of the things won’t go as planned. There will be delays and it might take twice as long for activities that would have been way faster without a baby. Planning ahead of time and adjusting and readjusting your day trips will be the key to a stress free trip. Also flexibility is key to a fun and relaxed trip. Make sure to follow your baby’s cues on your day out.
This was a memorable trip as it was Vir’s first time travelling in a plane, train, boat and cabs. I never wanted to give the excuse that I couldn’t travel because of the baby. I believed that it was a silly excuse and didn’t ever want my baby to hold us back from life experiences; I want him to experience them with us. Looking forward to our adventures with our little one.
Remember, Happy Baby =Happy Parents.
For more travel advice on travelling in a flight with a baby you can refer to Mommypoints.Boardingare.com they have some great tips and links for reference.
You can also check out mommyppopins.com for Things to do in NYC with an infant.