How To Do Disney World with a Baby and Actually Have Fun, Too!

Recently my husband and I decided to take our not-quite-one-year-old to Disney World. One of the perks of taking such a small child is that you don’t have to pay admission for them (until age 3, actually) so we decided to go. I realized as we were haphazardly planning this trip, that our son had probably never even seen Mickey Mouse, so naturally I got him a Mickey Mouse book and toy to give him a preview. 🙂 I showed them to him and told him excitedly every day for a week leading up to the trip that we were, “Going to see Mickey!” I feel confident he had no idea what I was saying, but he smiled and laughed as if to humor me.

The main thing I did to prepare for this trip was read everything I could find on how to do Disney with a baby. We eventually decided to only attempt one park, Magic Kingdom, which was said to be the most baby-friendly, and to go on Friday morning of our time in Florida, so that it would be the lowest possible temperature and the least crowded (compared to Saturday and Sunday). Here are the highlights of what I learned from reading numerous other resources, as well as my own recent experiences.

  1. This is probably the most important one: set your expectations low. Small children are unpredictable at times, and can easily get overwhelmed, overstimulated, overtired, overheated, etc. We planned on going to Magic Kingdom only, and for just a few hours, playing it by ear. We packed sunscreen, waters, snacks/pouches for baby, all the usual diaper bag items, and used a small, lightweight umbrella stroller. (I added a skip hop liner https://www.skiphop.com/skiphop-on-the-go/VC_400502.html to keep it slightly cooler.) We were realistic going into the day, that baby might be over it by the end of the first hour, and if that was the case, we would leave.
  2. When we arrived at the park, we located the Baby Center. I had read on the Disney Parks website that Magic Kingdom had a Baby Center, complete with a nursing room, changing tables, the works! It did not disappoint! We went in right away and changed baby’s diaper in the air conditioned room that had at least six padded changing tables with disposable paper liners, then we moved into the next room which had regular chairs and high chairs, kid tables and chairs, and even a TV playing the Disney channel. At this point in the day, there weren’t many other people in the Baby Center, so I sat in this room with my husband and nursed baby. I did also see the nursing room, which was separated from everything else by a door that is kept shut for privacy, and features four or five recliners. Additionally, there was a small shop with everything you may have forgotten to bring for your baby, diapers and wipes, sunscreen, baby food, formula, stroller fans, ponchos, onesies, etc. all at fairly reasonable prices. (It might not be what I pay at Target, but the markup did not seem extreme to me.) Overall, I was very pleased with the Baby Center and the kind cast members working there. 
  3. Keep an eye on the temperature while you are walking around. We made a point of going through all of the gift shops throughout the park in an effort to keep ourselves and most importantly, baby, from getting overheated. We were there in June, possibly not the best time to be in Florida in terms of temperature, but we made sure to stay hydrated and out of the sun as much as possible.
  4. Research the rides in advance, and make a plan. For us, I researched all the rides that were baby-friendly (which is any that do not have a height requirement) and we planned to go for those. Baby-wearing made me feel more secure bringing him on the rides, too, and he was so comfortable he slept through the entire Dumbo ride! We had fun doing the Buzz Lightyear ride, the People-Mover, and would have also done Pirates of the Caribbean and Aladdin’s Magic Carpets if we had stayed longer. Another option is to take turns, if there are rides that the adults want to do (i.e. Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain) you can always divide and conquer, just make sure to allot the time needed to wait in line, or book it with a FastPass.
  5. Disney now only lets you have three Fast Passes a day. I did not know this, and this policy might be subject to change. When I last went to Disney about seven years ago, you could get as many Fast Passes as you wanted provided they did not overlap. Now, you are limited to three, but you can make changes and cancel them within the Disney parks app.
  6. Download the Disney parks app. We found it to be very helpful for booking Fast Passes but also for looking up wait times for things we wanted to do that we could not get a Fast Pass for. For example, I had my heart set on taking baby to meet Mickey and Minnie, but I did not think he would tolerate being in line for an hour plus. We kept checking the app while we did other things and eventually it said 40 minutes wait for Mickey and Minnie so we made our way over.
  7. If your child has not been around characters or mascots before, be prepared that it might scare them. While we were in line to meet Mickey and Minnie two small children ahead of us freaked out (screaming, crying, etc.) when they got to the front and were terrified of the two characters. Luckily for us, baby LOVED Mickey and Minnie and smiled, laughed and even held Minnie’s hand, but it could have easily have gone the opposite way!
  8. Stay on property, or closeby if you can. With a small child, it is really nice to have quick access to your hotel if they do have a meltdown, blowout, etc. We stayed at the Shades of Green and were able to take the monorail from the Polynesian. I have also stayed at the Contemporary, years ago.
  9. Enjoy watching your child experience Disney. I have always been a big fan of all the princesses (especially Belle) and pretty much all things Disney, but it was a unique and wonderful thing to watch my son watch the parade and meet Mickey and Minnie. I can’t wait to bring him back when he’s older!

 

I hope these tips are helpful! Do you have tips for Disney? How old were your children when you took them for the first time?

Another trip, another late check-in at the airport

I’ve shared travel tips before, but I am constantly coming up with new ones based on my own misadventures.

My husband and I took our almost-one-year-old to Disney World last week (I will post some Disney-related tips at a later date) and traveling back from Orlando was quite an experience.

Let me first begin by explaining that if we had been early arriving at the airport, most of this could have been avoided, but I am notoriously late for most things, flights included.

We had rented a car, so the first thing we had to do when we arrived at the airport was return it. Orlando’s car rental process is very efficient and located at the airport, not in a remote site you have to bus over from, so that makes things very simple. However, while my husband and I were unloading the bags, my baby grabbed my (thankfully old and cold) coffee cup and dumped it all over himself and his car seat. I quickly stripped him down to his diaper and pulled out a change of clothes from the bag. His mocha-flavored car seat on the other hand, would just have to wait.

We checked our bags, got through security without any issues, and hopped onto the tram to our gate. Or we thought we did, until we looked out the window and saw a huge Southwest plane about as far from where we were headed as it is possible to be. Apparently, Orlando is such a large airport that it has more than one tram! We stayed on it to go back the way we had came and finally got onto the correct tram. Miraculously, we  rushed over to our gate and arrived just in time for family boarding!

My husband got the gate check tags for our stroller and car seat, and by this time, I’m pretty sure baby, who has been riding along with me in his baby k’tan, has pooped. As we walk down the jetway, I cheerfully remind my husband that this diaper is definitely for him, since I had changed the last two. He eventually concedes and takes baby and the diaper changing pack into the plane’s lavatory. Several minutes go by. Meanwhile, nearly everyone else on the plane has been seated and they still haven’t come out of the lavatory. A flight attendant calls to me from the back of the plane, “Mom, do you have any other clothes for baby?” Uh oh. I reply that he’s already in his spare onesie (from the coffee incident) and all I have left are diapers and a pair of pants.

Eventually my husband comes out with baby, just in a diaper. It turns out that baby had pooped, as I had suspected, and while my husband was changing him, proceeded to pee all over the diaper changing pad, which then went up his back and all over his onesie. Luckily, baby was completely unfased by this whole experience and happily bounced on my lap in his diaper for the majority of the flight, his clothes in the trash bag the flight attendant had helpfully provided us with. She also told us her own crazy traveling story from when her son was a baby. It is definitely nice to know that we’re not the only ones!

Tips from this trip:

  1. Arrive at the airport early, especially if you’re traveling with children. It’s always better to change a diaper in a full-sized bathroom in the airport than the tiny one on the plane. (although sometimes you just do what you have to do!)
  2.  Carefully read posted signage related to airport trams/buses/etc. because if the airport in question is big enough to have one of those, it might have more than one!
  3. Always pack at least two onesies for baby. Maybe three, just to be safe, if you are like me, and these types of situations seem to happen regularly. 🙂
  4. Try to have a sense of humor. When things go awry, it doesn’t help to get angry in the moment, just push through, do your best to adapt to the situation, and try to learn from it for the future!
  5. When you think your baby can’t reach something from their car seat, you might be wrong. I thought my coffee was out of reach but my talented son proved me wrong! Hopefully I won’t make that mistake again! 🙂

 

Thanks for reading! What are your favorite travel mishap stories? Any tips or tricks that have worked well for you? Comment below!

Next time: How To Do Disney World with a Baby and Actually Have Fun, Too!

Top 10 Pieces of Advice for New Moms

In no particular order, I have compiled what I would consider to be the most useful pieces of advice I have received as a new mom. When you are expecting and when you have a new baby, you get all sorts of mostly well-intentioned, (usually unsolicited) advice. I don’t remember who said what, because let’s be honest, those first couple of months with baby are a blur mostly, but thank you to the wonderful people in my life and my baby’s life who have been there for us and continue to help us along the way!

1. Find a mom community. 

I have greatly benefited from mom organizations, where you can be your messy hair, sleep-deprived self and everyone understands. In particular, I’d like to mention iStroll workout classes, our local Catholic Moms group, and Breastfeeding Support Group. These three have been instrumental in building my confidence as a new mom, sharing helpful advice and resources, and making friends who understand the time of life I’m in right now.

There are definitely some days where getting everything together and going anywhere feels like too much, but whenever I am intentional with my time, and make it to these groups, I am always glad that I went. I highly recommend looking up these sorts of groups in your area and finding your new “mom-tribe.”

2. Give yourself grace.

I am not the mom I thought that I would be.

I had many ideas and images in my head of what my life would be like when I finally achieved my nearly life-long dream of motherhood, and no matter how many books I had read, I truly had no idea what it would really be like. I don’t think it’s something anyone or any book can tell you about, you have to experience it for yourself. Try not to have any expectations for the type of mom you’ll be. You are the mom that God picked for your baby, and He knew what He was doing! Give yourself some grace, and just do your best! That’s all you can ask of yourself.

3. If you really want to breastfeed exclusively, commit to it. 

My mom said this to me, and it was crucial to my success in (key word: eventually) getting comfortable with breastfeeding. We definitely struggled in the first month or so, but with the support of family, the breastfeeding support group, and two of the wonderful Certified Lactation Consultants at our hospital. It was a lot harder for than I thought it would be, but it was something I really wanted to do. If it’s important to you, seek out help! Our local CLCs are wonderful and do outpatient appointments.

4. Stay hydrated. 

This was something I have been advised about since way before getting pregnant and yet I still struggle to do it! Especially if you’re breastfeeding, though, keep water bottles all over your house, do whatever works for you.

5. Do what works best for you and your family. 

Your best friend might ‘mom’ differently than you. Or your sister, or your own mother, or mother-in-law. Ultimately, you have to decide what’s going to work best for you and your family.

6. Call your mom or mom-friend. 

I’ve always loved that my mom is about the easiest person to talk to, and now that I’m a mom myself, I am so thankful for her insight and advice! I went through a phase as a young adult where I thought I shouldn’t call my parents “too much” (as though it somehow made me a more legitimate adult to tough it out on my own?) but now I have a better understanding of their value and wisdom.

My mom-friends are immensely valuable as well. I can remember one day, when baby was just a few weeks old, my friend texted me to check in, and I texted back that I was feeling a little down, what I figured to be ‘baby blues.’ She called me a few minutes later to make sure I was really okay, which really meant a lot to me. This same friend and others even visited me in the hospital! Those friendships are so crucial to maintaining sanity, especially in the early days.

7. You cannot spoil a baby. 

There is no better feeling (at least, that I’ve experienced) than snuggling your sleeping baby. Take advantage of the times they fall asleep in your arms and put your feet up and relax when you can. Those moments get more and more rare and holding baby a little extra will not spoil him or her. I’m also a big fan of baby-wearing. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a fun way to keep your little one close and have your hands free.

8. Communicate how you are feeling with your spouse. 

I will admit, I am often terrible at this. And after not telling him what is bothering me, I expect him to psychically know what it is, and fix it. Definitely not fair to him. I am trying to do better about communicating better and also giving him more opportunities to care for the baby. My husband has been so wonderful with our son and seeing them bond has made me love him even more! It’s important to remind myself of this when I’m “in the weeds” (to borrow a term from my waitress days). He wants to help and sometimes I just need to tell him what I need.

9. Accept help.

Another thing I’m not good at! If you have wonderful people around you who offer to help, try to say yes, and tell them what specifically would be helpful. For example, when anyone tries to help put away stuff in my kitchen, it drives me crazy because then I can’t find anything. Instead, if someone wants to help, I try to ask them to do something I’m not as particular about, like wiping off toys, or rinsing dishes.

10. Take time for yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it!

My husband has been good about pushing me to take time for myself when he’s home and able to take over. I’m not the best at taking him up on it, but I do feel more human when I’ve had an hour or two on my own, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store or a quick workout at the gym. I am a better mom when I have time to myself to decompress every so often.

Thanks for reading and I hope these tips are helpful!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? Comment below.

10 Most Useful Baby Items I Had Never Heard Of Before I Had My Own Baby

I have spent most of my life helping to take care of other people’s children (as a teacher, daycare teacher, babysitter, nursery attendant, etc.), and yet, now that I have one of my own, there has still been a steep learning curve with regard to baby items. There are so many out there that I had never even heard of! For those of you navigating these waters, I hope this list will help!

 

1. VAVA egg nightlight

This light was given to us by a friend who already has two little ones, and it is so cool! Maybe I am easily amused, but I love that you can tap it to turn it on and off and adjust the brightness. It has different brightness settings that are great for middle-of-the-night feeding or changing, when you need to see but don’t want baby to be fully awake.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1S7B60/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_

 

2. Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer

This nifty little pouch will Velcro around the handles of virtually any stroller and even includes a zip off wristlet for your phone, keys, etc. A couple of things I love about this: the whole thing is made out of easy to clean material and is lightweight. It also has cup holders deep enough to hold a reasonably large water bottle without allowing it to tip over.

It’s not very expensive to begin with and I’ve even seen them sold at TJ Maxx on occasion! 😊

https://www.target.com/p/skip-hop-grab-go-stroller-organizer-black/-/A-1457810

 

 

3. Nose Frida

Don’t overthink this one. It might sound gross, but it works amazingly well once you get the hang of it! My little guy had some congestion that made it hard for him to sleep this winter and the nose frida was better than all of the other types of nose cleaners we tried.

They have this at target, on amazon, etc. but the one linked below (through Buy Buy Baby) includes a handy travel case.

https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/fridababy-nosefrida-reg-the-snotsucker-travel-case/5178576?keyword=nose-frida-with-travel-case

 

 

4. Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper

My baby loves this so much, my parents even got one for him to use at their house. This was recommended to me by other moms at a nursing group, and they were so right! My little one has always been a great sleeper at night but doesn’t always like to nap during the day. When I put him in the Rock ‘n Play however, he falls asleep within minutes! It’s not super loud when it’s on, and the music isn’t annoying. In the interest of full disclosure, the motor on ours broke this week, but I contacted Fisher Price and they are sent a replacement motor at no charge, and a free surprise toy for baby. Overall, I highly recommend it.

Important note: Make sure you get the “auto” rock ‘n play sleeper if you want it to rock on its own. The ones that are not labeled “auto” do rock, but you have to do it manually.

https://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Auto-Rock-Sleeper-Stone/dp/B00NEO5UTU/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1548900056&sr=1-1&keywords=rock+n+play

 

 

5. Munchkin Changing Pad Liners

I don’t remember where I first saw these, but they have become an essential in our home. When baby has a blow out or pees unexpectedly mid-diaper change, it is so nice having one of these down on top of the changing pad, because they are absorbent and waterproof. It is much easier to change out a liner, than to have to switch out the entire changing pad cover and also clean the changing pad. With these, we can fold it over quickly and slide a new one under baby without having as much of a mess.

https://www.amazon.com/Munchkin-Waterproof-Changing-Liners-Count/dp/B009UPUJIY/ref=sr_1_3_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1548900415&sr=1-3&keywords=munchkin+pads

 

 

6. Baby Einstein Musical Toy

I am a big believer in toys that are not incredibly annoying. If it makes sounds, it has to be something I can deal with listening to repeatedly without wanting to throw it against the wall or take out the batteries. The Baby Einstein toys typically meet this criteria for me. I could listen to classical music all day and not be bothered (although it might make me fall asleep over time) so the “music box” style classical music that this Baby Einstein toy is perfect in my opinion. My baby loves it, too and enjoys watching it light up while the music plays.

https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Einstein-Along-Tunes-Musical/dp/B000YDDF6O/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1548900692&sr=1-4&keywords=baby+einstein+toy

 

 

7. Sleep Sacks

I’ve taken care of a lot of children over the years, including putting them down for naps and/or bed and I had somehow missed hearing about the sleep sack. It’s possible that this is a relatively new phenomenon, but now that I’m a mom, I see them everywhere. The basic purpose is a “wearable blanket” as some are called, so that baby does not have the hazard of potentially being tangled up in a blanket and suffocated in their sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a lot of concerns about baby sleeping habits that could contribute to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome… a truly terrifying concept), and this is one way to alleviate those concerns. The recommendation is for babies to be placed on their back with nothing in their cribs, no bumpers, no top sheet, no blankets, no stuffed animals, you get the idea. For more information about this, I would recommend reading What To Expect The First Year, and consulting the AAP website.

http://www.halosleep.com/our-products/sleepsack/

 

 

8. Munch Mitts

Those baby product manufacturers sure do like their alliteration, don’t they… sleep sack, munch mitt… these are great for teething babies, even as little as three months! My baby seemed to be teething already by three months, although we didn’t see any visible teeth until between six and seven months. The munch mitts are textured so that they enjoy chewing on them and grabbing them. My dog also loved the one he got a hold of and destroyed… a word of caution, they are sturdy enough to withstand baby teeth, but not dog teeth!

https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/s/teething-mitt?ta=typeahead

 

 

9. Munchkin pacifier wipes

These wipes are great for traveling or just being out and about during the day. Initially, I carried around a spare pacifier in my diaper bag, but with these wipes, I don’t have to. A great example of the usefulness of these wipes was when my husband, baby, and I went to my six-week postpartum check up. Baby’s pacifier on the floor three different times during the appointment, and each time, all I had to do was grab a wipe to clean it off and give it back to baby.

https://www.target.com/p/munchkin-arm-hammer-36-pacifier-wipes/-/A-13296353

 

 

10. Baby Stop Sign

This item is the one I’ve gotten the most comments and compliments about, by far. I purchased the pdf of this on etsy (see link below) and printed it off, laminated it, and used a zip tie to attach it to my baby’s car seat handle. As a new mom, and especially during flu and RSV season, I’ve been very concerned about keeping germs away from baby as much as I can. This sign is a gentle reminder to the mostly well-meaning people I encounter that my baby needs some personal space! 🙂

https://www.etsy.com/listing/605323381/no-touching-and-no-kissing-car-seat-tag?ref=shop_home_active_13

 

 

I hope this information is helpful to other new moms out there! Are there any items you found to be helpful that I didn’t include on my list? Comment below!

Did you forget something?

This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis. As a new mom, there are so many new accessories in my day-to-day life! Just going to the grocery store with baby some days can feel like a troop movement. Did I pack enough burp cloths in case he spits up? Did I remember to refill the wipes after his blowout the last time we were out? Are my keys in the bottom of the purse I’m carrying or somewhere in my kitchen? (Resulting in me having to take baby back into the house to get them because the car won’t start without them… 🤷🏻‍♀️)

I make a lot of lists these days, and that can help, but I realized that there is something I have been forgetting, and it can become increasingly common. Me.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t ever do anything for myself. My husband has been incredibly supportive and encourages me to go get a pedicure, or just go do the grocery shopping alone while he watches baby (sometimes that can even feel indulgent, right?) often. And sometimes I drive through Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks… God bless the person who decided those two stores should each be a drive through. 🙌🏼

What I didn’t realize until today, was that I’ve been letting some things slide, when it comes to my own well-being. Today I went to see a physical therapist to talk about some lingering aches and pains I’ve been having since baby made his appearance. Over the course of my appointment we discussed some treatments and strategies for me to try and alleviate those issues, within the context of busy mom-life. 🙂 (My wonderful hubby was able to meet me at the appointment and took charge of baby so I could focus, which was very helpful.)

I’ve been so busy trying to take care of everything else, I had put off asking for help for myself for months. I’ve been blessed by good health all my life and I think I just assumed I would have pain after baby so I had better just suck it up and keep moving. I am so thankful that my husband, family, and friends encouraged me to seek out a physical therapist! My problems won’t magically disappear with one appointment, but today I feel like there’s a plan in place to get me back on track. I look forward to being able to run and be more active again, without the pain that has been discouraging me.

Does this sound like you? Have you let your own health (physically or mentally) take a backseat? In the US alone, there are over 3 million reported cases of postpartum depression each year. Seek out a trustworthy health professional! Check your insurance benefits, because there might be services covered that you did not know about. Ask around, I am certain there are other moms who can point you in the right direction, like the ones who recommended the great physical therapist I saw today. I felt like there was this expectation that well, I’ve had a baby, maybe this pain is just the new normal. I’m very happy to be wrong! Ask for help, you’ll be glad you did!

More Holiday Travel Tips

After the easiest flight and airport experience EVER, I felt inspired to add a few more tips so that others might experience the unexpected bliss that is stress-free holiday travel.

1. Accept help from strangers.

This is something I struggle with because I am not one to ask for help in most situations, but when there’s a baby involved, it really does take a village. I have been so blessed by the kindness of strangers lately.

A lady at the gate not only helped me attach my gate check tags to my stroller and car seat but also helped me stuff my stroller into its bag, and then proceeded to carry both the car seat and stroller down the gateway (that tunnel thing that leads to the plane… not sure what it is called). All of this, she did without being asked and without a reward in sight. Merry Christmas indeed.

A flight attendant on the plane offered to fill up my water bottle for me when he saw me try to pour my tiny airplane cup into it while holding my squirmy baby. It’s the little things that make such a difference!

I hope I will remember these moments and help others when I am slightly less encumbered. 🙂

2. Carry as little as possible onto the actual airplane.

After my husband and I took our first flight together with baby, each of us with our own carryon and the diaper bag, I decided that was too much stuff. Honestly, when I’m flying with baby, it’s not like I have a need for items to entertain me, I really just need his stuff, and my phone. My new system, is to carry a wristlet with our travel documents and my phone in it, and the diaper bag. Everything else gets checked or we get it at our destination. This has made boarding and disembarking a much smoother process.

3. Dress baby in an easy outfit, like a sleeper or onesie and pants with footies attached.

I don’t always like baby to wear what I consider to be pjs all day (no judgement, just personal preference) but when we’re traveling there are definite advantages. My main strategy is to avoid socks. Too easy to be pulled off (intentionally or unintentionally) and dropped on a dirty bathroom floor or lost altogether. As long as it’s not super hot out, I also put an additional layer on top of baby (i.e. a bib or jacket) so that if baby spits up, I have one layer that can be easily removed without having to change the whole outfit.

4. Munchkin brand pacifier wipes

These are so helpful in the event that your child’s beloved pacifier gets dropped, or rubbed up against something and there is no sink and dish soap handy. I keep a pack in my diaper bag and have used them on several occasions. They are non-alcohol and have baking soda in them so I feel safe using them on pacifiers.

5. Make sure you eat/drink, too!

I’m not always the best at remembering to feed myself, but it helps to keep the stress levels down when you’re not also hangry. 🙂

Hope these tips are helpful! Merry Christmas and safe travels this holiday season!

10 Tips for Traveling with Baby

Since we’re in the midst of the holiday season this topic felt timely. We’ve flown 3 times with baby so far, twice together and once I had him alone, and have done several short (1-3 hr) car trips and one long (8+ hr) car trip. Here are some things we have learned so far:

1. When flying with baby, find out from the flight attendant which bathroom on the airplane has a changing table.

On Southwest flights where you can pick your seat, this is especially useful information. I prefer an aisle seat near the restroom when possible. We love Southwest and fly with them when we can, but unfortunately on all the flights I’ve been on so far, there has only been a changing table in one of the bathrooms, so it’s good to know which one it is. Even on the same airline, the location can vary by plane.

2. Packing light is not a thing anymore, which means you should probably weigh your suitcase before you head to the airport.

If you’re like me, packing light was NEVER a thing… add kids… and game over. Since I knew we’d still be traveling a fair amount, I wanted an extra large suitcase to fit all of our gear. Luckily, the first time I flew with it full, I had the presence of mind to weigh it… and it was about 3 lbs over the 50 lb limit. 😳 Oops. With some creative shuffling into the other bags and the decision to buy baby wipes at our destination (those packs are heavy!) we made it work.

3. TSA will let you wear baby in a carrier through security, but they can’t be in a stroller or car seat.

This I found out the hard way, when traveling alone with too much stuff. We were rushing (not that I was usually early prior to having a child) and I thought maybe, just maybe, TSA pre-check would allow baby to stay in his car seat/stroller and just run a wand over it or something? Nope. Had to take baby out, and with one hand, fold up the stroller to stuff it through the scanner along with the car seat and other bags I had. The TSA people were very nice about it and tried to help (unfortunately spilling the clean binky, toy, and other items onto the conveyer belt in the process 🤦🏻‍♀️) and ultimately we made it to our flight. Next time, I will be more prepared!

4. You can check a car seat and a stroller at the gate at no additional charge. They do not count toward your allowed carryon total.

Just give yourself a few extra minutes to get the tags at the gate counter!

If you’re like me, you might also want bags to protect these relatively expensive items, so give yourself time to get them both bagged and tagged! You’ll be allowed to board ahead of others, which is helpful.

5. If you breastfeed and you’re going to be in the car for an extended period, bring a pump and bottle just in case.

I don’t typically pump or use bottles (other than using a haakaa once or twice a day), but we came upon a situation where it would have been helpful.

When you’re in the car stuck in traffic, or just between rest areas, and baby wants to eat, it is very hard (and really not safe) to unbuckle yourself to try and lean over them to nurse. A better option, is having a pump with you (I prefer my Lansinoh manual pump) so that you can quickly pump an ounce or two to give your baby from a bottle to hold them over until you can safely nurse at your next stop.

Note: it is NEVER a good idea to prop a bottle upon a baby who cannot hold it on their own!

6. Assume that you will need an hour long rest stop for about every 2-3 hours of driving.

We did a drive with baby that usually would take us about 9 hours with a couple of short stops, and it took us about 12 hours. Luckily, we were expecting it to take a while, so we were not in a hurry and it wasn’t as stressful as it could have been.

Each time we stopped, we’d change baby, I’d nurse him, we’d wait a little while then change him again, and then get back on the road. Sometimes this would also include an outfit change for him or me, or food for his dad and I, but on average these stops took about an hour.

7. Make sure you have everything you might need in an easy-to-reach location.

This may seem obvious but I find it helpful to make lists when packing, including which bag each item will be packed into, so that I don’t accidentally put all the diapers in my checked suitcase, for example.

For my diaper bag, I’m sure seasoned moms out there are better at this than I am, but I always seem to be missing things if I don’t have some sort of list. My husband came up with a clever solution to help with this , and we now have a laminated check list in the pocket of the diaper bag with all the standard items on it.

8. Have a change of clothes for you and baby available if you’re going to be traveling.

Poop, pee, and spit-up happen. I find that I can mostly tolerate baby spit-up on my clothes if we’re not traveling long, but definitely not for an 8+ hour car ride.

I always have a spare onesie or two for baby but I don’t always think of having a spare outfit for me!

9. Pack at least one diaper per hour of travel.

I read this advice somewhere and it has held up in my experience thus far. Sometimes you won’t need that many but sometimes you’ll use them all!

10. Cut yourself some slack, it’s hard traveling with even the most perfect kiddo(s)!

Assume everything will take a lot longer and factor in extra time to breathe. You can do it! Babies can pick up on stress so get that Starbucks if it helps you decompress, or play your Mozart if that’s your jam in the car. (Mozart makes babies smarter, right? 😉)

Do you have travel tips that have helped you stay sane? Comment below and subscribe to be updated on future posts! 😊 Thanks for reading and Happy Holiday Traveling!

10 Best Maternity Clothing Items

Maternity clothes are surprisingly hard to find, and frustratingly expensive. At least, this was largely what I encountered when I began shopping for them.

Before I begin, I just want to establish that no one is paying me to write this, I don’t work for any of the companies whose products I recommend below, and my goal is to help out other moms who are struggling to find comfortable and affordable maternity clothes.

I am one of those people who tries not to get ahead of herself (but often fails). Pretty much the day I found out I was pregnant, I began excitedly shopping for maternity looks to dress up my still-invisible baby bump. Much to my frustration, most stores I went to did not have maternity clothes in stock. If they sold them at all, it was generally online, which made sizing complicated (order it in multiple sizes, wait for it to ship, try it on at home, return what didn’t work out, rinse and repeat). It seems to me that Motherhood Maternity was the one of the only places I could try anything on, but the options there were often limited, and not always budget-friendly.

To even a seasoned shopper such as myself  (just ask my husband 😁) this was a uniquely challenging situation. After a lot of trial and error, these are the ten items I found to be the most comfortable, versatile, and cost-effective for my maternity wardrobe. (I’ve included links, but if they don’t work, try searching by the item name/brand name.) I hope other moms will find this information helpful!

 

1. Best Maternity Yoga Pants

I think many other moms would agree, there are few things more comfortable then a soft pair of yoga pants. For maternity, I recommend Great Expectations Maternity Yoga Pants sold at Walmart and on their website. They typically range from $10-20 depending on whether or not they are on sale or rollback and seem to run true to size. I found them comparable or better than others I tried, and far lower in price. Hard to beat! I wore them to work while pregnant with long maternity tops, and they were one of the only things I could stand to wear for a while after my c-section (more on postpartum clothing later).

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Expectations-Maternity-Solid-Yoga-Capri-Pants/56240308

Note: The link above is for the capri length yoga pants, because the full length are currently out of stock. (11/30/18)

 

2. Belly Support Shorts 

Technically, these are called “secret fit shaping panty” but I wore them like a slipshort. These were a godsend especially in the summer months of my pregnancy, but very nice to wear any time of year, particularly under dresses. I don’t think I’ve ever had a “thigh-gap,” and I certainly didn’t while I was pregnant. These prevented a lot of discomfort in addition to supporting my belly. These can be found at Motherhood Maternity for $20 a pair, but I thought it was worth having two pairs to rotate since I wore them a lot. The fit was true to size for me, the material felt durable, and held up in wash (although I do air-dry them).

https://www.motherhood.com/secret-fit-shaping-panty/006-96522-000-001.html?cgid=underwear-shapewear&dwvar_006-96522-000-001_color=006-96522-22#start=1

 

3. Fold-over Waistband Yoga Shorts

Since as a pregnant lady I was typically overheated (especially as I got closer to my July due date) these were a great option for sleeping or just hanging out around the house. The fit is like the Great Expectations yoga pants with the roll-over waistband.

Note: Old Navy frequently has online sales, but often, maternity items are excluded. Make sure you check the fine print for exclusions if you’re looking for a deal!

https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=272071002

 

4. Over-the-Belly Workout Capris 

These I found at Target, miraculously in the actual store! I love the back of these because they have a cross-over low waist in the back, making them cooler for workouts and  warm weather.

https://www.target.com/p/maternity-crossover-panel-active-capri-isabel-maternity-by-ingrid-isabel-153-black/-/A-52304492?preselect=52226597#lnk=sametab

 

5. Super Soft Drape-Front Top

I love this top. I have it in two colors currently and probably will get more. This top is nursing friendly so it has been great for postpartum as well. It comes in a variety of colors and both short and long sleeve options. There is even a dress version! (I might also have two of those…) It also comes in plus size!

https://www.pinkblushmaternity.com/p-25520-fuchsia-draped-front-maternitynursing-top.aspx?DepartmentID=1

 

6. Cloudfoam Sneakers

For aching, tired feet, I recommend these super comfortable kicks! (Do people still say “kicks?”) Addidas has several types with the “cloudfoam” but I liked the Cloudfoam Ultimate ones the best. I am not typically a girl who wears sneakers all the time, but I loved these. Bonus: they slip on without having to be tied and untied every time! Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had to have my husband help me tie my shoes, so these were a great option!

https://www.adidas.com/us/cloudfoam-ultimate-shoes/BC0033.html

 

7. Wrap Dress

This dress is a great option for maternity and a forgiving option for postpartum. With a pair of wedges and the right jewelry, it can be dressed up, and with some cute flats, it can be more casual. The material is soft and stretchy and comes in navy and black. Pinkblush has a lot of great wrap dress options, both patterned and solid, that are nursing friendly too. As far as sizing, I have comfortably worn a size small, medium, or large in several styles depending on how loose/long you want it to be.

https://www.pinkblushmaternity.com/p-32668-navy-blue-solid-long-sleeve-wrap-tie-maternity-dress.aspx?DepartmentID=1

 

8. Clip-Down Maternity Cami

These are from Motherhood Maternity, come in a variety of colors, and frequently go on sale. (They are also sold at Buy Buy Baby, but you can’t use Buy Buy Baby coupons on MM items… I asked.) I like these because they stretch and still do not appear see-through. They are made for nursing so they have the clip down straps, which is convenient for the transition to postpartum.

https://www.motherhood.com/clipdown-nursing-cami/007-92305-66.html?dwvar_007-92305-66_color=007-92305-66#q=clip%2Bdown%2Bcami&lang=default&start=1

 

9. Over-Belly leggings

Motherhood Maternity has many options for maternity leggings but I prefer the “secret fit belly” option. (I’m not sure why it’s called “secret” but the secret is out!) It has a stretchy band that I found to be very comfortable, especially late in the pregnancy when I felt truly enormous. I have also worn these postpartum and they were not stretched out like other leggings that I had worn over my bump. Pro tip: if you prefer to try things on in stores, Motherhood Maternity will match their online sale prices in stores! Just ask the sales person, and show them the discounted price on your phone.

https://www.motherhood.com/secret-fit-belly-maternity-leggings/006-91922-006-001.html?dwvar_006-91922-006-001_color=007-91922-40#q=secret%2Bfit%2Bbelly%2Bleggins&lang=default&start=1

 

10. Cozy Nursing-Friendly Sleep Bra

This company was one I had never even heard of until later in my pregnancy. Their french terry nursing/sleep bra is so incredibly soft and comfy. The sizing of these is flexible enough to accommodate my size fluctuations through the end of my pregnancy and into nursing. Their customer service people are great and will help you figure out your size if you need it.

The French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra

 

These were the items I know I will use for future pregnancies and in some cases, I’m still using them! I hope this list is helpful for moms out there working on their maternity wardrobe! It’s only a short period in your life, but it is definitely important to be comfortable! Next I will be working on lists of recommended baby items, postpartum clothing, and more! Please feel free to comment below if you have any items that helped you through your pregnancy!