Tag Archives: infant travel

Why Car Seats Might Be One of the Worst Things for Kids’ Health

I absolutely hate removing my car seat from its rightful spot in the back of the car, mostly because it’s an endeavor that that usually leaves me sweating and exasperated enough to have to dial for back-up to get it back into the car correctly. I also hate it because it’s confirmation that, yes, my car seat is just as nasty, if not more so, than I had imagined.

And it’s not like I don’t try to keep it as clean as possible. I brush my kid’s car seat free from crumbs and other debris nearly every time we use it. And about once I week I probably take a rag to it to try to rub out obvious stains. But it’s when I actually get the time to do a deep clean that I start to really get grossed out. Because for as much as moms focus on  health and cleanliness for our babies, spending small fortunes on products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and immune boosting vitamins, the car seats we put our kids in day in, day out are crawling with germs.

Or at least I know mine is.

My first step in de-grubbing the car seat is always just to get the darn seat out of the car, which comes with its requisite huffing, puffing and pushing, pulling to get it free. Immediately, I remove the cover and hose it down while aggressively going at the crumbs smooshed into every corner and crevice with a hand-held scrubber brush. (Sometimes I also just throw it in the washer.)

Once the cover is hanging up drying somewhere, I move on to the actual seat. It also gets the hose and a soapy water rubdown. I’ve learned that I need to actually flip the seat upside down and spray the bottom as well to be sure it gets really clean. Why? Because sometimes stuff like this is hanging out under the seat:

Ewwwwwww!

Yes, that is a Wheat Thin stuck to some gunk that probably was milk at some point. I still don’t understand how this stuff managed to harden into a solid and adhere itself to the underside of the seat, but it did.

Next, I move on to cleaning up the back seat. Also disturbing:

Yuck!

This stuff actually required scrubbing to remove it. But it’s curious to me how much stuff ends up under the seat given how much seems to end up either in baby’s belly or all down the front of him.

And of course the door:

Not so yummy

It sort of freaks me out when I think about how many germs the typical coffee cup contains, you know, the ones that kind of hang out in people’s cubicles never getting a truly thorough washing. So, when I see this, my inner germ-a-phobe comes rushing to the surface. Can this really be healthy for our kids?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, car seats, cleaning, daily life, health, hygiene, transportation, travel

Pimp My MiniVan

When our little bundle of boy was born, we had two vehicles. One was an SUV that we used mainly for long road trips and hauling stuff like my husband’s military gear and the dog. The other vehicle was a Volkswagon Jetta that was perfect for city travel because it was good on gas and a dream to park.

Move over, stationwagon

But all it took was one big trip to my parents’ house with baby gear plus all of the normal stuff for us to realize that the Jetta, for all its practicality, was rather impractical for us at this stage in our lives. So, when a friend of ours who was set to deploy, offered us the chance to buy his Volvo SUV for what he owed on it, it sounded like a great deal.

And it has been. The only thing that’s been a surprise is the fact that serious dudes with a serious interest in cars seem to especially appreciate my family mobile.

I don’t know much about cars. I don’t dabble in the aftermarket business at all. So, I had no idea I had some crazy pioneer Pioneer GPS/sound system or mad tires and rims. I’m not even sure the dude we bought it from knew all this.

But I’ve been learning. On top of the fact that we, on a whim, bought the safest SUV on the market, I’ve also learned, for example, that I have some serious low-profile tires and enviable rims. I usually know when a black guy with chains tells me he has the same ones. What size they are, I have no idea. But it’s instances like the one the other day that confirm it all to me:

So, there I am, pulling into Petco to buy some hyper expensive canned dog food because my dog craps out cow pies otherwise. I pull into a parking spot just as a dude is pulling into the space next to me. I see him nodding as I get out of the car and as I walk around to yank my kid out of the car seat, he says, “Nice ride.”

All I could muster out was, “Thanks.” But what I really wanted to say was something like, “Yeah, boo, the Graco My Ride 65 is how we roll.”

It is absolutely hilarious to me that I have milk stains literally coating the inside of my right, rear, passenger-side door and yet dudes who know stuff about cars always comment on my car, assuming I know what I even am riding on. I mean, seriously, if you weren’t into cars, you wouldn’t know that I apparently have fancy tires and rims. They aren’t tricked out in any sort of way or anything. In fact, for the first month, because of the low-profile tires, I thought I always had an under-inflated tire. (Shows you how much I know about cars.)

And yet, they do.

But there’s something about me that gets infinite amusement out of the fact that I’m carting my milk-stained munchkin around in a hot ride. Even though I’ve only committed to the SUV, I’m totally thinking that if I ever get to the minivan stage–hey, remote opening rear doors are pretty awesome–I’m totally going to have to pimp it out or lose some real street credit in the drop off/pick up lane at school.

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The Joys of Being a Breastfeeding Mommy (and Other Misadventures)

A random text from a mommy friend inspired me to finally write this post that I’ve been meaning to write for awhile. Like me, she’s a working mom who’s trying to balance her work responsibilities while breastfeeding her infant daughter (and take care of a toddler!). Her note, typed from the airport, went something like this:

I have redefined “hot mess.” I’m in Newark (dirtiest airport in New England). My meeting ran over so I did not get to pump before I left the office. My boobs are like rocks. I paid $100 to upgrade to first class so I could skip to the front of the security line. There’s no “family” bathroom, so I stand in line in this filthy bathroom, go into the handicap stall and start pumping. The battery on the pump dies after about two sucks, so now I’m committed and in pain. I stand in the loo, change the batteries while holding pump to boobs (no luck) for 30 minutes then hand pumping with milk dripping on the floor and my clothes, sweating, because who puts A/C in a public bathroom. I’m not able to touch anything because it’s unsanitary to say the least–for 4 blessed ounces of white gold and the elimination of stripper boob. At least it only got on my pants and not my white shirt. Happy Tuesday!

Days like that are ones where you are amazed that you even made it through. Fortunately you can always curse your husband for not being able to help you and then text a mommy friend and finally begin to see the humor in it all.

For as much as traveling with an infant poses some challenges, traveling without your infant when you’re still breastfeeding brings up a whole other set of issues.

First of all, it screws up your efficiency. I’m an efficient traveler to begin with, but when I travel for work, I’m super streamlined. Checking a bag is never an option. In fact, I get annoyed when the airlines make me check my bag planeside. So, the fact that as a nursing mommy you have to bring along a cooler of some sort and your pump really kind of throws your equilibrium off. Business travelers and boob bags don’t really mix.

But somehow you figure out how to make it doable even if it’s not ideal. During my last business trip, for example, I ended up bringing a smaller cooler that was able to be tucked into a larger carry-on bag. The smaller cooler meant fewer bottles and fewer bottles meant that at some point during my trip I had to dump some of my precious white gold. It was tragic–a mommy friend likened it to throwing a piece of heirloom jewelry in the trash–but it was a price I was going to pay to not have to pay to check a bag or waste time waiting for my bag at baggage claim.

I also bagged bringing gym clothes–who was I kidding anyway? Any free time was going to be spent pumping–and found a way to get away with a single pair of heels in order to fit my pump and its accoutrement in my suitcase. Of course, for all my carefully packing, I forgot essential work equipment like my camera and batteries for my Flip cam, but that wasn’t the end of the world either.

The other thing I made sure I did was book at a nicer hotel so that I could be sure that I had a mini fridge in my room. Out went the mini bottles of Smirnoff and Johnny Walker and in went plastic bottles of white gold. And being at the nicer hotel also had an additional perk. Rather than spend  my time running back and forth from the convention center, I just booked nearly all of my meetings in the hotel’s restaurants and lounges, which meant I had an executive-worthy venue to have my meetings and could easily hop the elevator up to my room to squeeze in a pump between meetings.

The pump part that was out to get me

But for all this willing to make being a working and lactating mommy work, there are always these mishaps akin to what my friend experienced today. For me, the small plastic piece that connected the pump to the tubing somehow got chipped in my bag during my travels. That meant that my only hope of using the pump was if I stuffed my thumb  into the hole to create enough of a vacuum to get the thing to suck. And at that point only one tube was operational, so it was going to take twice as long to pump every time I had to pump. Again, not exactly an ideal situation, but workable.

I did that for a day or so before I got the brilliant idea that if I stuck a piece off gum in the hole, I could plug it up and get the pump to work and also free one hand to at least type an e-mail or change the channel. Let me just say bad idea. After that experiment failed, I was left with a pump that was totally useless. And there was no time to order replacement parts from the manufacturer. By the time I paid the gazillion dollars for expedited shipping, I’d be on my way home. Plus, what was I going to do in the meantime anyway?

At this point I remember there being a section in my breastfeeding bible, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, on hand expression. Of course I didn’t read it, but I do remember there being a line in the book somewhere about how every nursing mother should learn how to hand express. I remember thinking, “Why in the heck would I ever need to do that?” Apparently I’m either not very forward thinking or very imaginative (or both) because suddenly I found myself in Orlando on a business trip needing to teach myself how–or end my career as a breastfeeding mom.

So, after a little trial and error, I figured it out. It’s really not that hard, but

The back-up plan

the process definitely made me feel more like a cow than I felt before. That didn’t seem possible at the time, but it was so very true.

But like most of the other setbacks I’ve encountered as a newbie mommy, I survived after having learned a thing or two the hard way. My advice? Go out and buy a hand pump to take along with you. I bought an Evenflo SimplyGo manual pump so I’d never be stuck again.They aren’t expensive and are surprisingly efficient even if your hand can get tired.

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Filed under babies, breastfeeding, daily life, feeding, lactation, travel, working mom

11 Lessons in 10 Days

Baby and I have been repatriated after a wonderful 10 days in Chamonix, France. The weather was mostly more than cooperative, confirmed by a friend who said that both baby and I got some color on our faces; the food delicious (I am pretty sure I ate my weight in charcuterie, fromage, escargot, and soupe à l’oignon); and the company even better.

But I’m not going to lie, my travels with infant weren’t without their stresses. Just to give you an idea, my trip started out with me sitting in my car in what most certainly was the furthest parking lot from the airport terminal in a torrential downpour, debating whether I should wait the rain out or just suck it up and get soaked. Of course it had been 50+ degrees and partly sunny when I left the house, so my Gortex was happily packed in the bottom of my suitcase. I decided to crawl into the backseat and nurse baby while I debated my options. After 15 minutes and no signs of letting up–actually I think the rain started to cascade harder–I decided to just make a run for it.

Run is actually a funny word to use because as any mommy traveling by herself with infant knows, you’re not going anywhere fast. Not when you have a kid strapped to your front, you’re dragging a suitcase with your diaper bag that you’re pretending is also a purse hooked on top, and, in the other hand, you’re trailing a folded up umbrella stroller behind you. Did I mention the small, soft-sided cooler that I had slung over my shoulder? (Sadly, this is efficient for this stage in life.) If I didn’t feel pathetic enough, I certainly did after a man in a wheelchair tried to help me into an elevator.  (True story.)

We lived to tell about it, that’s for sure, so that’s a good thing. And all the stress of the logistics of getting there and back were well worth the good times we had in France, so we’d no sooner book another mommy-and-me overseas adventure in a heartbeat. But all that’s not to say that I didn’t learn a few things. Here are my Top 11 travel tips for mommies traveling overseas with infants, particularly those traveling without an extra set of hands.

  1. Travel on off days. Seriously, if you are planning to have your baby on your lap, it’s worth the extra day of vacation that you will burn to travel on a slow travel day. I traveled out on Sunday and back on a Wednesday and had the luxury of an empty seat next to me on both flights. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say I don’t now I could have done it otherwise, particularly on the return flight, which was 9 hours in the middle of the day, without that luxury. At nine months old, he was crawling and squirming all over the place, so it was fantastic to be able  just strap him into the seat, throw the tray table down, and give him a few toys.
  2. Don’t try to travel like you’re still in college. This means forget the whirlwind tours; don’t try to do three cities in a week. Just pick a really good place that you can make home base and take day trips from there. It’s hard to think like that when there are so many new places to explore, but it will be a more enjoyable trip if you can actually relax and aren’t trying to cram baby into your sightseeing schedule.
  3. Opt for the apartment. If you’re going to be someplace for a week or more, consider renting an apartment over staying in a hotel. Just having access to laundry machines and a kitchen are worth it, even if it costs a bit more, which often isn’t the case. The random three diaper blowouts my kid had in a single day underscored this for me. Plus, many property managers will include things like portable cribs (with bedding), high chairs, and even strollers, if requested. (Score!)
  4. High chairs are an issue.We may be used to every Applebee’s, TGIFriday’s, and Ruby Tuesday’s having highchairs galore, it’s not that way in Europe. I was pleasantly surprised by how many restaurants in

    Perfectly portable

    Chamonix actually had high chairs, but the quality, safety, appropriateness, and availability of them were most often in question. For this reason, I packed my trusty Phil and Ted’s Me Too portable high chair. This thing is seriously awesome.  It hooks on to nearly every table or counter top with a pair of heavy-duty clamps, is really sturdy, and it packs flat. (Bonus!) Of course, the one time I really, really needed it, the table top was too thick so it wouldn’t hook on, which brings me to No. 5…

  5. Never underestimate the power of the scarf.I don’t care what

    Big scarfs are the best

    season you’re traveling in, bring a big, long scarf, if you are traveling with a baby. (Think the size of a pashmina.) Not only are they chic, but I used mine as a pillow, a nursing wrap, a blanket for baby when the wind suddenly kicked up, and even as a child restraint in a high chair where the risk of him slipping through the bottom was high thanks to a lack of safety straps or anything close to resembling them. (Let’s just say a shopping cart seemed more secure.)

  6. Don’t expect your baby to stick to his normal schedule. Jet lag is really hard on the wee ones. For example, we were dealing with a six hour time difference and my bundle of boy started out going to sleep around his normal time (local), but then slept until nearly noon the next day. For three days in a row. By the eighth day, he was waking up around 9:30am (local), which was two hours later than his “normal” wake up. Feel free to disagree, but trying to sightsee with a cranky baby doesn’t sound like much fun to me, so I say let them sleep and do what you can when they can.
  7. Dare to deviate on the nap schedule. This tip runs along the same lines as No. 6. I know this is hard for some super-regimented moms to even fathom, but I’ll just be blunt and say that if you’re that kind of mom and still want to travel (and have fun), you had better loosen up. I don’t know about you, but I find that part of the fun of traveling is eating. But trying to have dinner at 7pm or 8pm at a restaurant with a jet lagged baby who normally is in bed at 7pm (remember other cultures don’t necessarily serve an early-bird special) poses some meltdown challenges. So, to have a more enjoyable meal out, I would feed, bathe, and pajama baby as usual, but him down early–like at 6pm. I’d let him nap until 7:30pm or so, then pack him up and put him in the stroller and take him to the restaurant with us. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks or make good use of the bread basket and, above all, stay close to home base in case there’s a real meltdown that requires you to book on home.
  8. Have fun with food.This is sort of a takeoff on No. 7, but enjoying

    Bon appetit!

    new foods shouldn’t just be a traveling perk for you. So, don’t bring all the food or diapers or wipes that you could possibly need for a week or 10 days. It’s not worth the work of carrying all that stuff, especially when you are traveling alone. Just bring enough to get you through a few days until you can buy stuff on site. Not to mention when you buy locally, you can introduce your baby to some new flavors. Just check out what the French consider appropriate for those babies 6+ months: apples with kiwi and pineapple, couscous with veggies, and salmon with rice and green veggies. My kid also downed a few croissants and Petit Beurres, which are wonderful French delectables.

  9. Bring hand sanitizer. I won’t go into details, but I’ll say that you

    Nasties no more

    shouldn’t expect Baby Koala changing stations wherever you go. I went into one public restroom that advertised a baby changing station and came out within 30 seconds, telling my mom and aunt that I would rather have my kid sit in his own feces for another hour+ than change him in that bathroom.

  10. Yes, you will be able to use the bathroom on the plane. So, the en-route changing station question isn’t that big of a deal. There will be one bathroom near you on the plane that has a changing station, if not every bathroom on the plane. (It’s above and behind the toilet.) It’s small (my kid barely fit on it), but it’ll get the job done. The real issue when traveling with infant is what you are going to do when you need to go to the bathroom but baby doesn’t need a diaper change. On my outbound flight, I had one very nice woman across the aisle from me (three kids of her own) ask me if I wanted her to hold the baby so I could go the bathroom. I’m not going to lie. This sounded very tempting, after having tried one strategy earlier where I kept the changing station down with the baby on top and held him while I tried to bend and scoot underneath to do my business. (Not recommended.) But for as good as that sounded, honestly, I didn’t know how it would look if I just handed my baby over to a stranger. (She did seem nice and where was she going to go?) I declined and tried a different strategy. Yes, I actually sat him on the floor of the airplane restroom. He was fine–turns out the toilet paper is right at eye level and can be pulled out and ripped up very easily–but I was pretty much disgusted with the fact that my kid was on the floor of a nothing more than a slightly less stinky PortaJohn. (This is why you need to heed No. 9.) But these are the types of choices you will have to make, so just try not to let germs ruin your vacation.
  11. Let people help you. For people like me, who are used to not only doing things their way but doing them completely on their own, this is a tough one. But it’s important to realize that, when traveling with an infant, letting someone share your burden doesn’t mean you are a failure. So, let that really nice, generous person who offers to carry your diaper bag on or off the plane do it. Everyone knows you can do it, but why not save yourself a little bit of effort?

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A Traveling Mom’s Sanity Saver

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I travel long distances with baby a lot. And mostly on my own. Because I don’t usually have the luxury of an extra set of hands (or knees) to help me, I have learned to be quite disciplined when it comes to packing.

Anything that goes into one of my three bags–one suitcase (for both me and baby), which gets checked; a diaper bag that doubles as a purse and primary carry on; and a smallish, soft-sided cooler stocked with boob milk (for baby) and snacks (for me and baby). Everything that goes into my bag meets one, if not more, of the following criteria: versatile, efficient, or convenient. (And yes, I totally miss packing things that were cute, fun, or “just in case.”)

The convenience is so worth the coin

At any rate, given my self-imposed packing restrictions, I’ve fallen totally in love with Johnson’s Take Along Packs. These pre-assembled packs may not be the most economical–they run around $4 to $5 for the pack–but the convenience when traveling is so worth the extra dimes. The pack consists of five trial sized–about 1.5 oz–mini bottles of baby essentials–baby shampoo, head-to-toe wash, baby lotion, baby powder, and diaper rash relief. Granted, when we’re at home, I use other stuff than Johnson’s, but when I’m traveling it’s not worth the headache to lug all those big bottles–or worse, go through the tedium of pouring them into more travel-friendly bottles.

As a total aside, I recently found out that Hyatts dole out these little gifties to hotel guests when they request a crib (complete with sheet and light flanne blanket) in their rooms–along with a super cute long-sleeve onesie with the hotel insignia on it. How awesome is all that?

But back to the take-along packs…

The biggest criticism I have of the packs is that I’d prefer a larger packet of Desitin and a smaller amount of baby powder to what currently comes in the pack. But that might just be me; I’m not big on the powder. Other than that, the size, quantity, and mix is just right for a good 5- to 7-day trip. (I’m going to see if I can stretch it to 10 days on a single pack during my next trip; we’ll see.)

But for as much as I love these totally smart packs of baby essentials, I’m completely confused by this on the reverse side of the package:

Does anyone else see the irony in this?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, bathing, hygiene, travel

How Much Is Your Baby Worth? Ask An Airline

Back in January, a mommy-friend had posted a link on her Facebook page that caught my attention as a mommy that travels with infant a lot. The article, “Oil Prices Don’t Vex Airlines; But Fees Could Rise,” talked about how airlines were likely to start up-charging for more than seat upgrades and checked baggage:

“To offset higher fuel and operating costs, airlines might push through a wave of new fees that are sure to be unpopular. One industry watcher has a lineup that shows how inventive the airlines might be:

Charging for lap-held infants, paying by the pound for checked luggage, fees for carry-ons, and a ‘convenience’ fee to book on the Internet.”

Of course, the whole charging for a lap-held baby thing snagged my attention. Seriously? That sounded absolutely ridiculous to me. And I’m someone that would pay for an extra seat for an infant if I was on a long-haul flight. I mean, anything less than five hours and I’m not going to be bothered with the price of another seat. And anything over eight and it’s almost a must, especially if you’re traveling alone, as I most often am. I mean, what are you supposed to do with a sleeping baby when you have to use the restroom?

Last week I booked an overseas trip to Europe for baby and momma. Given that I was traveling internationally, I would’ve considered booking a separate ticket for baby had it not been for three things:

  1. The flight itself is just shy of my 8-hour rule
  2. The price of tickets was nearly double what I paid last year
  3. It’s a direct flight, so once I’m settled in on the plane, that’s it; I don’t have to worry about a layover

Given those three considerations, I decided it was doable, even by myself, to hold baby on my lap. After all, if I played my cards right, he might be racked out for the night within 90 minutes of the flight taking off.

So, I booked one ticket. As I was checking out online, I noticed that the final price was something close to $160 more than the price was listed online. About $130 was attributable to taxes and fees (I still don’t understand why those can’t just be included in the price when advertised), but there was another random charge:

Gives new meaning to new addition

Yup. Continental now wants to charge me nearly $30 for holding the baby in my lap.

How messed up is that? It’s not like baby is an extra piece of luggage, a superfluous valise full of clothes that you’ll never wear on your trip but you bring anyway. You can’t just choose not to take your baby with you. Not to mention that a mom with a lap-held infant is a good thing for the airlines. It’s a chance to not only sell a seat at a potentially higher price but also to sell as seat to a traveler who might make additional purchases of alcohol, in-flight entertainment, or Skymall junk. Plus, a baby doesn’t complain when there are no more beef meals left.

But I guess in the world of airline business, every additional pound you pack on board has at least a fuel cost and probably some labor cost associated with it, although I would argue that a crying baby takes up less of a flight attendant’s bandwidth than a cranky frequent flier. But how do airlines figure out what to charge is my question.

I mean, how did Continental come to the decision that $28 was the price for a lap baby? Are they charging by the pound? Maybe. I checked the WHO’s growth charts for infants. There may be something to my theory.

On paper, the fair way for airlines to figure out what average weight to factor into their fee calculations would be to just use the average weight for a 12-month-old baby. This would assume that half the babies traveling are under a year old and the other half are 12 to 24 months old. At around a year old, average babies hit the 21-23 lbs mark, depending on whether the baby is a girl or a boy.

However, in reality that may not be true at all. I would venture a guess that most traveling babies are older babies, at least six months if not a year+, when they really start traveling. (My baby being a bit of an exception, of course, given our family situation.)  So, really maybe airlines are guessing that, on average, babies on board are about 18 months old and, therefore, weigh a bit more.

Assuming this is the case, it looks like Continental thinks a baby costs them about $1 per pound to fly.

I don’t know if that seems like a lot or a little. I don’t think I’ve quite digested the fact airlines could, in fact, be charging on an average poundage. And given that this fee is totally new to me, I can’t say whether it’s based on travel distance or not. I haven’t flown Continental domestically recently to be able to compare the infant fees.

But honestly, doesn’t the idea of charging for a lap-held baby just seem wrong? Shoot, sometimes I think the airlines should credit me the $28 to do that.

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Filed under babies, baby travel, daily life, infants, travel

Setting Our Sights Overseas

I have traveled a lot with baby in his short life. We’ve gone by land, air, and sea, but to this point, it’s all been domestic. But baby and momma are about to change that.

First, we have a wonderful opportunity to go visit my parents in Chamonix, France. It’s a lovely little ski town in the French Alps, nestled pretty much at the base of Mont Blanc, that’s overrun with Brits (in a good way) and brimming with cozy restaurants, delectable food shops, and beautiful baby boutiques. But getting there requires a little extra work.

Of course, there’s the issue of the passport. Infants need a passport to travel overseas. I found that the best–best meaning very economical–place to get said passport photos is Costco. It was never on my radar until the hubster and I went to go pick out a new TV (and second car seat, as it turned out) that I figured out that, for less than $5, I could get baby’s photo taken to the correct specifications.

But the actual passport application process was very stressful for me for some reason. First off, I didn’t realize that when applying for a passport for a minor (<16 years old), both parents have to be present, with the baby, when the application is submitted. So, of course, getting the passport taken care of became a last-minute, yet time-consuming errand to squeeze in before hubster went off to some pre-deployment training.

And in D.C., because I wasn’t leaving in less than two weeks, I had to make my way down to the Notary and Authentications Office, which is conveniently only open from 9am-1pm. To start off, on the one day that we could go, the federal government had a two-hour snow delay. So, it was going to be a flip of the coin as to whether the office was empty or packed. Fortunately, it was only moderately busy when we arrived.

However, I became very nervous very quickly about the application submission process because, as the lone man manning the office reminded us, the office only accepted applications and verified identifying documents, they did not guarantee that the application was filled out correctly. I was feeling totally frazzled as I kept looking over our documents, hearing in the background the lone man telling everyone as he or she came to the counter that s/he was missing some sort of documentation or had the wrong documentation. I was sure we were missing something. But we paid our expedited fee and left, my only consolation being that if the application was rejected, I would still have time to go downtown to the emergency passport office and get a last minute passport, if necessary.

International Man of Mystery

Low and behold, less than two weeks later, a package arrived with baby’s passport. Several days later, his birth certificate (you have to submit the original document along with the application) came back to us. I had been worried about that, too.

But now that baby and momma are both properly documented for international travel, I’ve started to think beyond Chamonix. Second on our travel agenda is a baby-momma cruise to somewhere warm. I’ve got nothing planned as of yet, but the idea of on-board daycare sounds amazing. Now we just need some friends to join us.

But being as that I have never been on a cruise–I just don’t think of myself as a cruising kind of traveler–I think I have a lot to learn about not only cruising with baby but cruising in general. Fortunately, a mommy-friend forwarded me this great article, “Baby on Board? The ABCs of Cruising with an Infant or Toddler.” It truly is a great primer on the perks and pitfalls of cruising with baby in tow.  My favorite tips?

Diapers not allowed: If you’re cruising to a warm weather destination, you’ll be expecting to take your little one into the ship’s pool. However, all cruise lines except Disney Cruise Line do not allow diapers or swim diapers in their pools in accordance with Center for Disease Control’s sanitary codes. On the Disney Magic, the Mickey pool has a separate filtration system in its “ears.” Thus non-potty trained children are allowed in this area since it can be easily emptied, cleaned and filled if there is a diaper accident. On the Disney Wonder, toddlers can enjoy Mickey’s Splash Zone, a 385-square-foot play area with interactive fountains.

Verandahs: While verandahs cost more, they are well worth it if you have a baby or toddler who naps daily. While your little one is napping inside, you can sit on the balcony and catch some sea breezes and sunshine. This beats being stuck inside a dark cabin on a glorious day at sea. Prices for verandahs vary greatly, depending on the cruise line, length of itinerary, and ship (newer ships tend to get higher rates than older ships in the same fleet). For example, Carnival’s Conquest Class ships — the newest in the fleet — charges $679 per person for a cabin with an ocean view (but no verandah). The same ship on the same sailing charges $150 more per person for a verandah cabin.

Baby baths: Most ships only have bathtubs — the preferred way to bathe an infant or toddler — in their most expensive categories of cabins and suites. Hence, chances are that you will have to hold your baby in your arms and have your spouse use the hand held shower nozzle to bathe your child. Alternatively, Disney ships have bathtubs in all cabins.

Seriously, I don’t think I would’ve ever realized the diaper thing or even thought about the added convenience of an in-room bathtub. But for as much as it’ll be a learning experience, I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic getaway for some babes with their babes.

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