Lifestyle

15 Pieces of Gear You Need for Traveling with a Baby

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*We’ve partnered with phil&ted’s to make life on the go with baby easy breezy.

There’s nothing more fun than traveling with a baby, but every veteran traveling mama will tell you to expect your share of surprises and inconveniences. The right baby gear can make all the difference, whether you’re heading to an exotic locale or just around the corner to Grandma’s.

Henley Vazquez, founder and CEO of the boutique family travel agency Passported, has seen it all...and knows just what gear will get you by in every situation. “Be adventurous with your travel, but play it safe with your gear!” says the NYC mama of 3. “Coming prepared with reliable gear that will make feeding, eating, and sleeping a little easier can save many an unnecessary headache.”

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We recently caught up with Henley and her 9-month-old daughter Nola for a travel gear tutorial. Here’s her 15 baby gear picks for traveling with a baby.

1. phil&ted’s go™ stroller

The newest launch in phil&ted’s stroller line, the go stroller is effortless and fuss-free. It’s super lightweight at just 11 lbs., fast-folding and compact, which is basically the travel trifecta. You can use it from newborn stage (it’s compatible with phil&ted’s alpha infant car seat), and it’s got great amenities like a grab bar and parcel tray -- perfect for toys and snacks when you don’t want to have to take your mini traveler out of the stroller. $189.99, Buy it here.

2. Marpac Rohm Portable Sound Machine

This sound machine weighs almost nothing, and is so tiny it can be crammed into any spare corner of a suitcase, yet it creates the same white noise you get from a much bigger machine at home. I wish I’d found this years ago. We would have had better sleep on many a trip! $34.95, Buy it here.

3. Lo & Sons Hanover Backpack

I’ve never liked traditional diaper bags, but after a couple trips digging through my handbag to find stuff for the kids, I realized I needed something actually built for traveling parents. The Hanover Deluxe is a simple black backpack I’d carry under normal circumstances, but it’s got pouches for everything to make the extreme circumstances of flying with three children more organized. Now I can immediately locate the wipes for the baby, the iPads for the big kids, and my wallet -- so I can buy myself a drink after getting my crew through security. I’ve started using it just for being out and about in the city as well as on the road. $128, Buy it here.

4. phil&ted’s traveller™ travel crib

There’s enough stuff to carry when you’re traveling with your baby, so size matters! At 6 lbs, the traveller crib is even lighter than my baby, and its compact fold makes it carry-on compliant for most airlines. It comes with a self-inflating mattress and fitted sheet, and has a zip-open side that turns the crib into a play yard. Truth: we use it at home in the living room almost as much as do when we’re traveling! $149.99, Buy it here.

5. phil&ted’s traveller™ bassinet accessory

If phil&ted’s traveller traveller seems too spacious for your newborn, you might feel more comfortable with the traveller bassinet accessory. Like a co-sleeper, it brings baby higher and closer to you as you sleep. It’s made from the same safe safe and breathable Oeko-tex certified fabrics as the traveller crib, and fits right into the same carrying bag. $49.99, Buy it here.

6. Baby Carrier or Wrap

There are so many great baby carriers & wraps on the market, so it’s hard to make a mistake when picking one. The only mistakeyou can make is not bringing one when traveling. Even when I have baby in the stroller, I often throw the carrier underneath for when she gets fussy and bored in the stroller and needs a change of scenery. It’s also essential on the beach, where a stroller gets mired in the sand. $99.99, Buy it here.

8. phil&ted’s lobster™ portable highchair

It’s impossible to know which restaurants have high chairs when you’re traveling (and why limit your cuisine by that characteristic anyway?). The lobster chair can easily clamp on to just about any dining table, making every restaurant (or apartment rental) suddenly baby-friendly. It’s also got a dishwasher safe tray, and a snug and secure 4-point over-the-shoulder safety harness for your little one. $89.99, Buy it here.

7. Munchkin Click Lock Food Pouch Spoons

A must for mess-free feeding on planes. These spoons click into baby food pouches and allow you to dispense the food onto the spoon by squeezing. It’s a game changer to be able to feed with one hand while keeping the other free to hold baby, wipe baby’s face, or catch a toy hurled at a neighboring passenger. $10.40 Buy it here.

9. Milton Sterilising Tablets

You don’t need these, until you do. I don’t sterilize bottles at home, but when we were going to an off-the-grid island in Mexico with an infant, I wanted to be extra careful that her sensitive newborn tummy wasn’t exposed to any unfamiliar germs. Milton’s tablets are easy to use – just add to cold water, let the bottles and parts soak for a few minutes, no need to rinse. Inisder tip: these are usually sold in the UK, so plan ahead as shipping takes a while. $23.44, Buy it here.

10. Pink Chicken Baby Clothes

This vacation-vibing brand makes the cutest and softest dresses and rompers for baby. I put Nola in their dresses for flights to make diaper changes in tiny airplane bathrooms easier, and I always have an extra one rolled up in my backpack for a quick change if she spits up. $64, Buy it here.

11. Audio Splitter

A big part of making flights easier with baby is making sure the big kids are happy as well. Buy an audio splitter so they can share one iPad if they are both keen to watch the same movie. A splitter saves double downloading so you can load up more content on two iPads and extends battery life if you only use one at once, for at least part of the time. $4.29, Buy it here.

12. phil&ted’s stroller travel bag™

There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination to find your stroller’s gotten all banged up (or worse, broken) on the way. So don’t forget about the stroller travel bag! phil&ted’s wheeled bag is strong and durable, and fits so much more than just your stroller (throw in your traveller crib, lobster chair and more!), then packs down compactly when not in use. $99.99, Buy it here.

13. BubbleBum Booster

One of the biggest shocks of traveling with a baby again is the amount of gear we need. I’ve tried to eliminate anything that isn’t necessary, but car seats are a must. So instead of hauling a full booster for the big kids, I’ve switched to the BubbleBum. It takes up no space, weighs just a few ounces and inflates quickly for use in the car. $29.99, Buy it here.

14. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

If you have to pump on the go, be sure to have a stash of these wipes in your bag. Use them to wipe down pump parts when you aren’t somewhere that you can wash them – no rinse required and everything is ready to go for the next pump. They’re great to have at work if you pump in the office, too. $6.98, Buy it here.

15. Skip Hop Changing Station

I bought one of these when my first baby was born 11 years ago, and I bought another when my last was born this year. Facepalm for ever parting with this essential piece of equipment! Not much has changed; it was perfect then, and it’s perfect now. This is the on-the-go changing pad needed. I especially love how good it feels to toss this to my husband and send him off to change the babe! $29.99, Buy it here.

Photography of Henley by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded.

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

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Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
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