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9 Tips for Traveling Abroad During Maternity Leave

Before we got married, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs to travel the world for a whole year. It was a trip of a lifetime. So when two years later we found out we were pregnant with our daughter, we quickly made plans to travel. We were lucky enough to give birth in California and have generous state-mandated parental leave policies, so we decided to create an adventure out of our respective leaves by taking a trip to France when our daughter was only three months old.

We were greeted with a great deal of concern and doubt from loved ones who thought traveling with an infant would be impossibly difficult. But given travel is woven into the very fabric of our relationship though, we weren’t concerned. And with a few tricks, a parental leave adventure is surprisingly doable.

1. Get the green light from your pediatrician. Before embarking on a great adventure, make sure to check in with your pediatrician and discuss your plans. Babies are much more susceptible to illness and germs, so it’s wise to be fully informed about potential risks and precautions to take. Our pediatrician recommended moving up a round of vaccines to make sure our daughter was more protected on the long flights we took.

2. Disinfect to protect. Take advantage of pre-boarding and go hog wild on the disinfectant wipes once you get on the plane. Wipe down everything in your seating area, including all the spots most often neglected during quick-turn plane cleanings: the seat pocket, tray tables and the AC vents. If changing diapers, do a quick wipe down of the changing station in the bathroom too. Keep hand sanitizer at the ready and make sure your hands are super clean throughout the flight.

3. Treats for seat mates. There is no reason to apologize to anyone else on the plane for the fact that you are traveling with an infant… but sweetening the deal with your seat neighbors certainly doesn’t hurt. For our flights to France, we brought nippers of Scotch, dark chocolate and disposable ear plugs for our seat mates. These little gifts went a long way in winning favor and dispersing bad vibes.

4. Double diaper- The going advice is to bring one diaper for every hour in flight, and that’s what we did. It’s also common that babies, particularly younger infants, may poop more on a plane because of the change in pressure, so it’s definitely wise to be prepared. Because our flights were over 10 hours each, we ended up double diapering our daughter, (i.e. putting on two diapers at once), to protect against blowouts and make the diaper changes quicker.

5. Travel light. The term “travel light” almost seems laughable when you think about taking an international journey with an infant, but you’d be surprised at how doable this actually is. When we went to France, we only took with us a baby carrier, the diapers and wipes we would need for the flight and the first day there, clothes, two bottles, pacifiers, our daughter’s sound machine/night light combo, a baby monitor and a handful of small toys and books. We strategically selected Airbnbs that were listed as “family friendly,” so wherever we stayed, we were supplied with a crib and a high chair. Two of the rentals also had strollers and came stocked with diapers. We would restock on diapers and wipes every few days instead of hauling a bunch with us everywhere we went.

6. Bring a hint of home with you. At three months old, our daughter may not have been deeply aware of what was home and what wasn’t, but she could recognize patterns. Because of this, we made sure to bring with us her night light and sound machine, as they created the feeling of home without a lot of extra load. We also brought an unwashed crib sheet with us so that her travel beds smelled like home.

7. Build a jet lag buffer. Jet lag with babies is a real thing, and no matter how well or poorly your little one sleeps at home, sleep is guaranteed to be thrown off with a major time change. The rule of thumb is that it takes one day for every hour of time difference for a baby to adjust, which we found to be more or less true. But we intentionally kept our daughter slightly off schedule for the possibility of dinners out. This slight schedule change also helped the readjustment when we got back home go somewhat faster. In general, it’s a good idea to be prepared for some sleepless nights on both ends as you all adjust to the time change.

8. Invite family and friends along. My in-laws joined for the first week of our trip, which helped us ease into traveling with a baby and offered some much-appreciated assistance. We then had a week to ourselves and ended with a week with friends. It’s lovely to travel as a new family, but it can be even lovelier when you have helping hands to offer some relief.

9. Give yourself graces. There will be moments on your trip where you may likely feel overwhelmed and overtired. At one point, I thought we permanently destroyed any decent sleep habits our baby had developed. In those moments, remember to be kind to yourself… and that nothing is forever!

Whether a faraway trip or one closer to home, there is something very special about traveling during those first few months of time with your new baby. Plus, it’s so much easier to travel with an infant than a toddler since they sleep so much more and just want to be worn in the carrier! Our daughter is close to a year and a half now, and we still travel regularly with her, but it’s a whole different ball game. While our trip to France may not have been as smooth as traveling as a duo was, it was nonetheless a magical memory to create as a new family.

Alexandra Brown is an author and marketing strategist. Her first book, A Year Off, documents the yearlong trip around the world she and her husband took together when they had only known each other four months. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her daughter and husband.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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