First Vacation With Baby

Ease the stress of traveling with your new baby and enjoy that vacation you deserve.

First Vacation With Baby

When my baby was six months old, I decided to take him via airplane to a wedding in Montreal. This four-day adventure would serve as preparation for a longer trip soon afterwards to Italy. I was dreading being that person on the flight with the screaming baby, so I asked around about how best to prepare for taking the baby to the skies. Almost everyone I spoke to said that first flight with baby was much easier than expected, and I now agree. Traveling with a baby can be an enjoyable bonding experience that adds to your favorite mommy moments... if you’re prepared.

Preparing for the flight:

The first thing my husband and I did in preparation for our Montreal vacation was get baby Jack a passport. We took his little passport photo at CVS -- it was so cute to see his little tiny baby face in the big passport photo square. If you're flying outside the country, a baby passport is a must; some airlines are strict about them.

Next, we made sure to call ahead so the airline knew we were traveling with a baby. I recommend confirming this in the airline's record. Request an email confirmation, and the name of the airline personnel you spoke to, to avoid any mishaps when you arrive at the airport. (This happened to us, and it took over an hour and a lot of arguing to add the baby back onto our ticket!)

We requested the bulkhead even though we were just traveling to Montreal. This is really important if you're on a long-haul flight, mostly for your own comfort and sanity, so you can put your little one to sleep safely and get some sleep yourself. Requesting a bassinet can help too.

Next we decided to take our car seat on the flight; we checked it in a drawstring laundry bag from the drugstore. It's definitely necessary to protect the car seat -- the laundry bag was filthy after the flight. Note that airlines don't count the carseats as checked baggage, so it flies for free, and you can still check another bag. We brought our baby carrier too, of course. Once inside the airport, and throughout our destination city of Montreal, it was useful for carrying Jack. We took sunrise walks through the city and were the first customers at the cutest old city coffee shop.

Finally, we had to decide how much to pack for a 6-month-old over four days. Turns out, it's a lot. Between clothing, feeding, bathing, and changing supplies, and lots of little toys to keep a baby entertained, Jack needed his own -- albeit small -- suitcase. I recommend bringing a lot of baby food, especially if your baby is particular. In Italy, the baby food was completely different, and Jack wouldn't eat it. For diapers though, just pack enough for your flight and transfer, then buy the rest at your destination, since diapers are bulky.

Boarding Day Concerns:

On the day of traveling, the most worrisome aspect was avoiding a crying fit mid-flight. As most moms know, this means keep the baby well fed! The TSA does allow bottles of formula or breastmilk to be brought onto the flight. If you're breastfeeding, it's still good to bring an extra bottle of pumped milk or formula just in case your baby is extra hungry during takeoff or landing. Many people told me that feeding baby during takeoff and landing not only helps with hunger, but [the sucking] also fends off earaches. I followed that advice, and it worked splendidly. Jack ate then slept during the flight, then ate again on the way down.


Next item on the agenda was getting the baby to sleep during the night in a new and unfamiliar location. We requested a crib in our hotel room and followed the same exact bedtime routine from home: bathtime, storytime, and sleep (in a very dark room). Remember to pack bathtime essentials including baby soap and a rubber ducky or your baby’s preferred bath toy. When Jack woke up earlier than usual in the morning, we brought him into our bed for his last few hours of sleep, which all of us loved. During the morning and afternoons, when we were getting ready to go out, we'd give him his little toys, rattles,and books on the floor or in his crib so he could play freely for a while. We always buy Jack one or two brand new toys for the flight so there’s an extra quality of novelty, and then buy a new toy at our destination so he has a special reminder of the vacation, and so do we.

Since we were in a beautiful city, we sought out city activities that Jack loves at home. We searched online for an indoor children's playspace in Vieux Montreal and found the wonderful Gym Petit Prince just a few blocks from our hotel. Jack crawled, explored, played with new toys, and had a magical afternoon. Another great Montreal memory was bringing him to a big park for a picnic. I recommend seeking out the children's play spaces and museums and child-friendly parks and playgrounds in your destination city to make your vacation is not only extra special for your baby, but also more fun and relaxing for you. Bon voyage!

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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