Seeing as I only have one child, I know I’m not an expert. I do feel like my unique situation of traveling during his first year of life has opened my eyes to things I might not have experienced otherwise and I’m grateful for these experiences. Parenthood is a beautiful thing and each parent-child relationship is so personal. Your choices should be based on your lifestyle and your baby! All so unique and beautifully different. Here are just a few things that travel has taught me about babies:
1. Muslin blanket makes the best towel
When I was in my 8th month of pregnancy, I wanted to buy the cutest little hooded monster towel and wash cloths set from Target. I knew it wasn’t absolutely necessary to have this hooded bath towel, but from what I’d seen in advertisements (and the fact that those are the only kind of towels in the baby section of Target) I figured I could convince Scott that this was the best towel one could buy for a new baby. Scott hesitated for a minute, but I batted my lashes at him and rubbed my pregnant belly and in the end he let me buy the towel set. 🙂
Everyone I knew was talking about how amazing the muslin blankets are for swaddling (and yes, I definitely agree that these blankets are a must with a new baby!), but I had never thought to use it as a towel. When we lived in Australia, our host opened my eyes to the versatility of muslin and my favorite use for my muslin blanket is definitely as a towel. It’s the perfect size for baby, not too big, not too small, it’s super soft, dries baby off really well, and it doesn’t take very long to dry out! I will definitely be using muslin blankets as towels for my future babies.
2. Nursing solves everything
Whether Carter is teething, experiencing a growth spurt and all the fun that comes with that, has fallen, or hurt himself, I’ve experienced that nursing solves everything. It’s nice to know that in those moments that feel like utter chaos and Carter doesn’t know what he wants (so he just screams… yeah, like that makes anything better…) I can cuddle him up and nurse him. Sometimes it takes a little while and he still has small outbursts of cries, but in the end he knows he is loved and I get some peace and quiet.
3. Babies Can Be Easily entertained
I know that babies are experiencing new things all the time that hold their attention really well, but I’ve been amazed at some of the little things that Carter is entertained by. Here are just a few everyday things:
- Pulling things off shelves. He could seriously pull things off shelves all day long if I sat by him and put them back on the shelf as soon as he pulled them off.
- Shoes. Not that shoes are my favorite thing for him to play with, but the fact that he’s stopped trying to put them in his mouth has eased my mind at least a little bit.
- Containers. Water jug, shoe box, cracker box, sand pail, paper bags, you name it. It has been really fun for me to work with him on putting things in and taking things out of containers.
- Straws. He’s recently learned to blow bubbles in our water bottle through a straw… that’s been fun…
- Clothes. He loves to pull clothes off of the shelves, unfold them, and play in them. He’ll throw them up in the air, he’ll crawl around with them, he’ll roll around in them, it’s hilarious.
4. Babies grow and develop wherever you are
News flash: some people thought we were crazy for traveling the world with a baby! So, maybe we are crazy, but we definitely are not hindering our child’s development by traveling. We’ve had people tell us that, seriously. Babies will grow and develop wherever they are. They can be on an eight hour flight or at home and they’ll still teeth, they’ll still get hungry, they’ll still take naps. As a parent you just have to be aware of necessary precautions to take about where you are and learn to adapt to your surroundings. It’s easy, I do it every month. 🙂
5. McDonald’s is your friend
Whenever I’ve traveled to a new place, I always make sure I know where the closest McDonald’s is (or other American fast food). I know it sounds silly, but it has been a huge blessing in some places! Especially if you’re nursing, you don’t want to get sick from the food and end up dehydrating yourself because first of all, you’ll be super sick, and secondly, in some cases, you won’t be able to produce sufficient milk. In Mexico, for example, we ate out for 2 out of 3 meals a day and our bodies weren’t yet acclimated to the “street food” so when we were struggling with stomach pain (and other fun things!) it was a huge comfort to know that there was a Burger King and a Subway a few blocks away. We learned to eat fast food in between street food meals until our bodies were acclimated and then we were golden.
Since we had previous experience before coming to Taiwan, we immediately located the nearest McDonald’s upon arrival. We ate our first few meals there and when we feel like we’ve eaten some street food that seems a little more daring, we’ll eat at McDonald’s for the next meal. I understand that fast food is not the healthiest option, but when you have no way of cooking at home, it’s the best thing you’ve got sometimes!
6. Everyone loves babies
It’s pretty much a fact. And I’m definitely guilty of it myself. Having Carter with us as we’ve traveled has opened so many doors! We’ve been able to meet and bond with so many amazing people while traveling and I think it’s mostly because they see a blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby staring them down and they’re drawn to him. We’ve had memorable conversations on trains and buses because of Carter, and we’ve made lifelong friends.
7. You can still travel with a baby, though you might have to take it slow
Again, a lot of people thought we were crazy when we started announcing that we were going to be traveling the world with a 7 month old. Just because it might be a little crazy doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. Traveling was definitely easier when Carter was younger and he slept more (5 months makes a huge difference!), but it’s still very possible. We take it day by day and sometimes we decide to stay at home instead of going out if we feel like it would be best for Carter. He might slow us down a little bit with the occasional nursing and diaper changing, but we’ve been doing this for a while so we don’t even give it a second thought any more.
I have a friend who I worked with in college who just had her second little boy and she’s out doing two day hiking trips with her baby! I highly recommend doing the necessary research for your specific needs, but know that your life is not over once you have kids, your life has just begun and your children will make every experience even more memorable.
8. Diapers and wipes are sold everywhere and are even cheaper than the US
This may seem extremely obvious to some, but as a mother who would be traveling around the world with a baby I couldn’t find any conclusive answer in regards to the availability of diapers and wipes. As I researched, I was engulfed in the cloth diaper craze and we even brought cloth diapers with us (after 4 months of use and experience) as a way to save money and guarantee that we would have diapers. We didn’t have the means to care for the diapers appropriately so we had to sadly part with them in our second country, but we’ve found that there are indeed disposable diapers and wipes where we’ve been. And as a bonus, I’ve spent less on diapers in each country than I would have in the states!
9. Babies grow up way too fast
Whether your traveling the world, established in your home with an adult job, or scraping by as you’re finishing school, babies grow up way too fast. Here’s a picture of Carter at 2 months:
Now look at him! He’s almost 1!