Travelling with a baby

Earlier last year I went to Korea with our baby girl.  She’s one and a half now so I guess I should be calling her infant instead of baby.  I went with my parents and my sister but was obviously the primary carer.  At the time I was going to write a blog about travelling with a baby but couldn’t think of anything particularly special to write.  My main feeling at the time was that it wasn’t really that different to daily life.  I did notice that I was a lot more worried about what I would feed baby but since I generally feed our baby what we are eating it ended up not being an issue.  Besides you can always go to the supermarket to get what you need.  We regularly stopped in to get bananas, milk and bread since those are baby’s favourite snacks.  Something to always keep in mind is; ‘what can baby do while I am there?’  One of the things I made sure we did while I was in Korea was devote a day to doing something baby would enjoy.  We found a kids land in one of the malls.  It was an amazing centre.  Overall she had a pretty good time.  It helped that I had my niece and nephew along.  They were a great help in keeping baby amused.

Last month we went to Australia.  It was a sixteen hour journey to get there; usually it’s a ten hour flight from Tokyo but we had to get to Tokyo first and that took six hours.  Baby handled it well.  She seems to like planes, this is her fifth time flying to and back from a place so she’s already a seasoned traveler.  I would give the following tips to anyone wanting to fly with a baby.  For starters its not like driving in the car or catching the bus.  You don’t have to buckle up except for on take off and landing.  Generally the trips are quite smooth so you can comfortably let baby walk up and down the aisles (or crawl).  Take a toy or two though since it can really help fill the time.  We did both a day flight and a night flight.  They’ve both got pros and cons to them.  If you are flying a night flight you can get the baby to sleep at their usually sleeping time and then hopefully sleep yourself or watch some movies.  That’s the dream anyway.  Day flights you’ve got to entertain baby for a significant part of it.  This doesn’t sound ideal but if you are like me and can’t sleep on planes it means you get to go to sleep at your usually time in a warm bed.  Not such a bad thing.  One thing I learnt which doesn’t seem to be well known is that you can designate a bag as a baby bag when getting on the plane and they don’t take out liquids.  You know as long as you aren’t crazy about it.  So flying with a baby isn’t so daunting.  I’d do it again.

As in Korea I found that going around Australia wasn’t so different as home life.  I had my standard baby bag with everything I need for an emergency; nappies, water, food, clothes and a toy.  Every place I met up with friends at in some way involved something that  baby could do.  Usually a playground with a swing.  This was a bit difference to my Korean visit since I didn’t know anyone there.  In Korea we mostly went to historical places and shopping.  Two things that aren’t exciting for babies.  In both these cases I just made sure baby knew we hadn’t forgotten about her and played with her on the go.  One huge difference I found was distances.  When you are travelling you tend to go that extra distance to do something.  Instead of doing a twenty minute car trip its more like an hour car trip.  This can make a bit of a difference for the baby’s experience.  Especially if they aren’t such a big fan of cars.  In my personal experience buses and trains are better for babies then cars.  You can give them more attention and they can share the experience with you.

Solids and Breast milk

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Our baby has been eating solids for about five months now give or take.  She’s never really been a big eater though.  She much prefers breast milk.  That had never really been an issue.

This month things have been different.  The big difference is that we’ve been trying to ween her off the breast milk.  It’s not that we are against breast milk.  We were told by our midwife group that we should breast feed babies for as long as possible.  Thus we have come to the point that is as long as possible.  Mum, baby’s mum not mine, is going to start working the night shift which means I’ll be the night house husband.  Since I can’t produce milk we need the baby to know that she isn’t going to be breastfed but she can still have cows milk and that she needs to eat.

Sounds like it should be an easy task right?  No, it hasn’t been an easy month.  The problem stemming from just how much our baby loves breastfeeding.  We have succumbed occasionally at night time when we are both way too tired to try and calm our distressed baby knowing that all she needs is a breast to suckle on.  However during the day we have been strict on the no breast milk policy.  For the most part our baby seems fine with this.  I’ve noticed though if I’m not wearing a T-shirt she’ll get curious about my nipples even though prior to the milk ban she knew full well that mine were just for show.  When she plays with mum though it gets worse because every now and then she wants a drink and gets very insistent and then very grumpy.  So far the solution to this problem has been out of sight out of mind.  That is to say that I’ll take her for a walk to the park or just play with her in the next room.  This usually works.

I mentioned for the most part she is fine.  That’s in terms of her general mood and activity during the day.  Feeding has become somewhat of a nightmare.  Before there was never a sense of ‘You have to eat.’ we knew that if she didn’t eat she’d still get enough from breast milk.  Feeding was just a matter of getting her used to solids.  Sometimes she doesn’t really want to eat.  She gets hungrier and hungrier until she reaches a point where she inconsolably wants breast milk.  She’ll push away food and drink and be grumpy.  In this mood she usually reaches a point where she accepts she has to eat but it’s a long hour or two.

Fortunately, we have some tricks up our sleeves.   We have learnt a few things in this process.  Firstly, babies don’t like mushy foods.  Maybe yours does and if so you are lucky.  Our girl looks at the mush and gives us a look as if to say would you eat it?  So presentation.  Basically whenever we give the baby something to eat we make sure it is something we would want to eat.  This is especially good because lately our girl has been trying to feed us her food.  The second thing we have learnt is; if you hit on a winner keep on doing it.  A baby doesn’t need to eat a different meal each day.  As long as she is getting what she needs and she’s happy to eat it you’re onto something.  For us the three winners are:  bananas, gnocchi and natto rice (fermented soy beans).  It actually equals a reasonably healthy diet.  She gets carbohydrates from the gnocchi and rice.  Vitamins and fibre from the banana and protein from the natto.  She does need to eat more vegetables though.  We often mix the gnocchi with a vegetable.  Popular ones have been spinach gnocchi (actually any green really) and pumpkin gnocchi.  We often make a white cream sauce to go with it and mix some carrots and onions into that.  She loves cream sauce.  Of course it’s actually made with just milk and flour we don’t give her butter or cream.  The downside though is that gnocchi is a time consuming meal to make.  The third thing we have learnt is to make sure the food we are eating can be eaten by her.  We’ve found that our baby wants what we’re eating or gnocchi.  The final thing we’ve learnt is that babies are snobs.  We’ve been buying very fresh good quality foods and she can tell the difference when we give her something regular.  Whether that means we should be giving her lower quality foods to de-snob her or if we should just keep on getting the good stuff is hard to tell.  Personally I want to keep on getting the good stuff.  It makes such a difference.

What we’ve learnt about breast feeding; first breast feeding takes a lot of energy out of mum.  Second, babies drink a lot of breast milk.  We didn’t realise just how much she drank until we started giving her cows milk.  She was definitely drinking close to a cup of milk each time.  The third thing we learnt is that the baby can get some odd associations if you’re not careful.  Babies love routine so before you know it there are a whole lot of odd little subroutines that you never meant to establish.  Whenever mum showered baby the baby ended up latching on and having a drink.  This eventually led to an association between breastfeeding and bath/shower time.  Our solution is simple enough.  I shower the baby.

Which leads me to my conclusion.  Dads, when baby goes off the breast milk your job is to fill that gap.

  • Why Breast is Best (plumorganics.com)
  • How to make Gnocchi (taste.com.au)  This recipe is pretty much what we do except that we blend up some vegetables to mix it with it so baby isn’t just eat carbs.