Sunday, 5 August 2012

How to wrangle your 9-month old on the road

We’ve been traveling a lot lately, with limited space for the various accoutrements that the modern baby seems to demand. Here are some ideas for making do with what’s around to maximize baby happiness while minimizing luggage.

On the plane
If you’ve got the babe in a lap belt facing forward, looking at (and/or destroying) the in-flight magazine may last for takeoff.
If the babe is supposed to be held in burping position, good luck with that…trading smiles with the people in the row behind is likely to be a winner in that situation.

In flight
Never underestimate the power of flight attendants. They have abundant baby-on-plane experience and know how to delight them. Pushing buttons on the intercom system? Peek-a-boo with the first-class curtain? Yes, please!
Also never underestimate the ability of other passengers to enjoy and amuse your child. On one recent flight, a flotilla of sisters spent an entire hour playing with our baby, while we parents had a blissful time reliving our pre-baby days of reading actual books on the plane.
Walking the aisle is a lifesaver. Our baby loves to smile at strangers, and planes are full of strangers, many of which are willing to obligingly smile back and make funny faces to stave off boredom and melt-down-ville.

This is when ear-popping skills come most in handy, which babies tend not to have. Best to nurse, bottle-feed, or encourage pacifier use during this time, though apparently crying loudly also helps pop eardrums (possibly other people’s). Good to save a special toy for entertainment, since by now your child may have tired of everything else.
Conferences are boring.
Toys and entertainment
Aside from the plane, you probably won’t need or have time for a great number of toys, but a little creativity can turn everyday items into toys when needed. Safety disclaimer: check to be sure baby can’t choke or otherwise hurt themselves on any parts of these items. Our babe has had lots of fun playing with the following:

Empty gallon-sized milk jug
Various kitchen implements (obviously nothing sharp and pointy)
Metal bowls – great slammed into tile floor for maximum loudness
Interesting drawer-pulls
Pillow mountains
Remote control (minus batteries)
Wine cork (according to the baby, this is great for teething. Make sure it’s not disintegrating, and possibly wash it off…unless baby is lucky enough to find it on the floor during a wedding)
Sticks (perhaps not sharp and/or poisonous ones)
Tourist brochures
Zippers and decorations on other people’s luggage

Of course, the best entertainment is found in exploring new environments (and finding all dangerous items available) and meeting new people. Take full advantage of these natural diversions!
Waterfalls are also boring.

Meal time
Taking care not to offer your babe foods likely to cause intestinal distress/parasites, the new range of tastes and textures available on your travels can delight your babe.

You can use a baby carrier strapped to a chair to create a makeshift, not very secure highchair. Just be prepared to then wear all of the smeared-on food later when you use the carrier for its intended purpose.

If you are somewhere warm with a body of water nearby, strip them down, let your baby cover themselves in food while trying to eat ripe berries and then take them for a dip to rinse off!

Ha. If you figure this out, let me know.

"Yes! That's what I'm talking about, mom. Coral rubble is delicious. After much sampling, I've decided Acropora branches are superior for teething."

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