Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traveling With Baby: Baby Travel Gear

We recently took our first family vacation, and because it was two weeks long, there was a lot of preparation on my part. Some things that we took were completely unnecessary and then there were others that I wish I would've thought of before hand.

The Best Baby Travel Gear







Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Playard
My parents got this travel crib for us to use during the trip (and then to keep at their house for when grandkids visit). I loved it! It collapses down fairly small and can be carried back-pack style. As the picture shows, the side unzips and the top is open, giving you two ways to lay your little one down for a nap. 

Downside: there is only one level - the mattress is on the ground which makes it a bit difficult to put baby down without straining your back. But it was definitely a useful thing to have - it was the only place we could put baby down safely when we needed to pack, unpack, or repack (which we did a lot of since we stayed at 3 different family members' houses and 3 different hotels).





Gate Check bag for stroller and car seat


Perhaps this is not the most vital item on this list, but I was really glad I had them. It made it a little easier when checking the stroller and car seat at the gate - we could leave all his toys, car seat cover, stroller tray, car seat arm pad, etc attached and not worry about them falling off and getting lost. Then when de-planing, it was easier to identify our baby gear cause it was the only one in a bright orange bag. Also, it kept our gear from getting dirty and protected against minor scratches.

Downside: it seems that our stroller was dragged while in the gate check bag - there are huge scuff marks and dents on parts of it. I think had it not been in the bag, it may have been lifted or wheeled instead of dragged. Also... it's a bit of a pain fitting them back in their built-in envelopes/bags. Don't even attempt to do it while in the airport.



Itzy Ritzy car seat arm pad and tummy time mat

I love this product! (My husband... not so much). This arm pad unrolls into a tummy-time mat, complete with a little mirror. It's quite plush and thicker than any of the blankets we took with us on our trip. Plus, it does double duty which is great when you're trying to save space when packing. We just left it attached to the car seat when we put it in the gate check bag, though I did take it on board one plane and it also worked great as a little pillow. I used it to help prop up my arm when breastfeeding on board and my husband also used it as a neck pillow. They make car seat arm pads that don't unroll into anything else, and this is great if you don't need it for anything other than the arm pad. 

Downside: Because it is also a tummy time mat, it's pretty bulky. When we have both this and the car seat cover attached, it's difficult the carrier onto your arm. It doesn't make the carrier feel any lighter... but it does save your arm from getting dug into.





 
Flye Baby


This is one of those "novelty" items you may have seen floating around Pinterest (which is where I discovered it). I wasn't even sure where to buy it at first until a few months later it popped up on Zulily. It was a bit difficult to figure out the first time, but I think it was worth every penny. If you're only taking one short flight while your baby is still little, perhaps it's not for you. We took four different flights - two of them nearly 6 hours long - so it was great to be able to have free hands! Because unless you buy your baby their own seat, you pretty much have to hold them the entire flight, meaning no magazine reading for you! 

Downside: It attaches to the tray on the seat back in front of you... which not every plane has (our first flight did not). Also, if the rows of seats are close together and you don't have much leg room, then there won't be enough room for the hammock to stretch out fully and really be taut. Plus, if the person in front of you leans back... My boy was only 3 months old at the time, but he had already exceeded the height maximum. Whoops. I kept using it though, because it was nice to have free hands. It's not meant to be a "safety" seat or anything and cannot be used during takeoff, landing, or turbulence.





Ergo Baby

This is probably my favorite carrier I have tried thus far. I wish I hadn't taken my stroller and taken only this. (Because even though our stroller is called a "travel" stroller - Graco Click Connect if anyone wants to know - it was hard to fly with because it was too big too fit through the x-ray machine at the airport security checkpoint. We should've just checked the car seat and carried him in the Ergo through the airport. Because we also hardly used the stroller while on our trip - I think we may have used it once or twice at the beach when walking to the shopping area... but it was a hindrance when we got there because the shops were small and it barely fit in the restaurants. An umbrella stroller or just a baby carrier like the Ergo is the way to go.
5 points to anyone who can guess where we are!

Downside: It doesn't pack up small... not exactly a space-saving design. But if you wear it through the airport and onto the plane, then it's not a big deal.












Zoë b Organic Sleepy Hat

This adorable hat is one of those things I wish I had bought. Since I haven't tried it, I can't speak to its effectiveness, but it really would've been helpful on our many flights. He had trouble sleeping on the plane because of all the noise and light - I wasn't about to ask the other passengers to close their windows, so I ended up holding him at awkward angles to keep light from shining on his face. 

This brilliant hat would've made it so much easier!





 
Travel Bassinet


Another one I didn't try because I was worried our chunky monkey would be too big. Some of the lengths on the available travel bassinets are only 25 inches or so - which was about an inch longer than baby G when it came time for our vacation. If you have a smaller baby, then this could really be helpful - doesn't take up much space but would still provide a sleeping spot for baby if none other is available. Some hotels provide cribs upon request, but we were also staying with family at certain points during the trip and they didn't have cribs just lying around. This was unnecessary for us because we were able to use my parents' travel crib, but had we not had that, we would've gotten a travel bassinet.
 
Zoë b Organic Sleepy Hat
Zoë b Organic Sleepy Hat
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