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First Weeks Home

When it’s time to bring your baby home, Huggies is here to lend a hand during those first few weeks. We’ve put together everything you need to make you and your baby feel right at home.

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15 Ways To Make Daily Tasks With a Little One Easier

By:Lauren Hartmann

When you have a baby and a mile long to-do list to accomplish, the tasks can seem insurmountably impossible. I know what that feeling is like – I’ve been there plenty of times. But, over the course of 13 months spent with a baby, I’ve learned some tricks of the mommy trade that help make accomplishing daily tasks a little easier and I’m here to impart them to you (Feel free to share your own tips in the comments)!


1. Become BFFs with your crockpot

If you don’t already have a crockpot: GET ONE. If you already have one, but don’t use it: GET ON IT. My slow cooker is hands down my best friend in the kitchen. I use it as often as three times a week and it often provides leftovers too! Bonus!


2. Have a plan

Each night I lay out the next day’s schedule in my mind and have a rough idea in my mind of what I need to get done and in what order of priority. The fact is you can’t do everything, so prioritize the most important things first and then if you get the extra things on your list completed, it will just be a nice bonus.


3. Have a designated "mom uniform"

A “mom uniform” will look different for everyone, but basically, it’s just a go-to type of ensemble that you can mix and match easily in your closet without having to think much about it. A mom uniform should be polished and versatile for going a lot of different places and totally comfortable for all of your daily tasks. Mine is typically jeans and a cute top paired with ballet flats and a cardigan. I can throw on a necklace or some bracelets for added interest. Takes all the guess work out of getting dressed.


4. Pack ahead of time

Every night before bed (actually, often during nap time) I make sure to refill Fern’s “diaper bag”. I actually just use a purse now that she’s a bit older, but I still refill it with all the essentials: snacks, a couple of toys, diapers and wipes – that way I’m not scrambling to find them at the last minute when we’re running late.


5. Always carry distractions

Sometimes you can distract your little one with odds an ends while you’re out at a restaurant or out and about, but other times, you’re going to have to step your game up. Never leave home without a few entertaining items in your bag. I usually keep a small book, a toy car and some type of plastic animal with me. I also try to change up the items every so often so she doesn’t get bored with them. Also – snacks are always a plus.


6. Recruit friends and family

There have been many times when I truly need to get something done and getting it done without help just isn’t going to happen. Ask a friend to come along grocery shopping with you or have grandma come play with your little one while you clean the house. It takes a village to raise a child people and there’s no shame in that.


7. Assume you're a half hour late. Always.

If you’re that one mom on the planet who is always on time, then you are a far better woman than I am. I used to be obsessively punctual before I had a baby, but since then I now run on what I like to call “mom time” (AKA at least a half hour late always). It’s ok though, because I know pad my schedule with an extra half hour so at least now I’ll only be a little bit late instead of obscenely late.


8. Have a routine

Even when your baby is still too little to truly stick to a schedule, make everything that you can into a routine. For example: wake up, then nurse, then get dressed, then play, etc… These routines don’t have to be at a set time, they’re more of an order for doing things. I want my daughter to be adaptable to new situations, but try to keep with a routine most of the time so that changes don’t throw her for a loop. Variety is the spice of life, but having it be the exception rather than the rule can make things a lot easier for many babies (and parents!) when trying to get through their daily tasks.


9. Take breaks

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things on my to-do list and the seeming impossibility of getting it all done with a little one around. At times like these, I stop and take a breath and take a quick break to do something relaxing so I can come back refocused. Sometimes it just takes a cup of coffee and flipping through part of a magazine for a few minutes to get me back on track.


10. Sing

When things aren’t going well and there’s not much else you can do, just start singing. your baby will be distracted and soothed and it can sometimes even change your perspective on the day.


11. Keep toys in every room

For months during Fern’s first year I had the hardest time figuring out how to prioritize making dinner and every night it seemed to fall apart. Finally I got smart. I started keeping toys in every room of my house – including the ktichen where I make dinner. This solved the dinner problem because it meant Fern could now play right where I was in her view. Having toys in every room also gives your child a change of scenery and keeps them busy and entertained moving from room to room.


12. Dance while you work

You can do dishes while you dance and your little one will be entertained. It’s a win/win.


13. Get up early

I was never an early riser, but once my baby started sleeping a little bit better I pushed myself to start getting up early to accomplish tasks. Working from home means this is often the best time of day for me to work and it doesn’t hurt to have a daily mocha bribe from my husband. I’ve really grown to love my early morning time to myself – even if it is spent doing work, it’s still time to myself.


14. Break up your tasks

Before I had a little one I used to try to get things done in big chunks. I would cram as much into one period of time as I possibly could, but with a child it’s kind of impossible. As such, I’ve changed my approach and started breaking up


15. Leave it for tomorrow

Some days when you’re a parent there are simply going to be things that are just more important than a to-do list and that’s ok. Leave it for tomorrow. I promise your list will still be there.


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Raising Baby in the Digital Age

Bringing up baby in the 21st Century isn’t as simple as it used to be. With apps, connected technology, tablets, social media and the virtual world at our fingertips, there are new considerations needed for privacy and for fun. However, you can follow some simple tips for using technology to enhance your family life rather than letting it overwhelm you.

Safely Build Your Child’s Digital Footprint:

A rising trend among parents is to claim your child’s email address and domain name when they are born. While this may seem premature and unnecessary, it can actually be a great way to control what data can and will be collected about your child as they grow up.  Having a domain name ensures that they will have a website in their name if they should choose to create a business or personal site later in life, and also allows you to privately store photos and personal documents, which you can password protect.  It’s important to remember that you are the initial guardian of your child’s privacy, and you’ll be laying the foundation for how they will share online as they grow up.

Photo Sharing:

There is nothing a new parent enjoys more than sharing photos of their baby. But, it’s important to review your privacy settings on all of the social media accounts on which you share photos, and set them to friends only. You may also want to turn off any geolocation settings on your mobile phone and apps so that photos aren’t automatically tagged with locales. If you want to share pictures only with family, it’s easy to set up a private share site on any major photography storage sites. These can be password protected to make sure strangers don’t access your child’s photos. 

Screen Time:

One of the biggest dilemmas facing modern parents is the struggle over screen time.  However, not all screen time is equal.  Real life interaction with your baby is best, but you can use screen time as a learning experience as well. If you give your child a tablet or phone to watch, use the time to play interactively with simple apps that feature numbers, letters, shapes and colours. Point out and engage with what is happening on the screen and relate it back to the physical world rather than using the tablet as a pacifier.  Make sure to activate parental controls on all devices and limit screen time. And remember not to use screens within 2 hours of bedtime since research has shown that the blue light disrupts the sleep cycle.

Connect With Family:

Technology has enabled families to stay in touch in new and wonderful ways.  Grandparents can easily use video chatting to interact with their grandchildren no matter how far they may live from one another.  Having regular video chats with family and friends can let everyone join in on the joys of your growing baby, and create lasting bonds.  Set up a recurring date that everyone will look forward to.

Technology should enhance your parenting experience and enrich your family’s life – not make it more distracted. Remember that you are not only making choices for your baby now, but also being a role model for how your child will ultimately balance the physical and virtual world as they grow older. 

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Baby sleeping on dad’s chest in comfy bed.

6 Surprising Facts About Your Newborn Baby's Brain

Your baby’s brain began to form almost immediately after conception, and by the third trimester it nearly tripled in weight and changed its appearance from a smooth surface to a grooved one. At birth, your newborn’s brain—although already functioning as the most important organ in the body—is still in the process of developing. Here are 6 more surprising facts about your newborn’s noggin:

1. Babies are born with all of their brain cells (neurons)—approximately 100 billion—that will continually connect with one another to create synapses. Connections are made when your baby has an experience (reaching a milestone, for example) which then encourages him or her to think and use those mighty brain cells, in turn strengthening the synapses. As your little one develops, the brain will also mature by “pruning” away the least useful synapses based on your baby’s specific experiences and environment.

2. Research suggests that constant interaction and communication, as well as the power of play, encourage brain development, so read often, sing nursery rhymes, narrate your activities (such as, “Mommy’s putting you in the stroller to go on a walk”), and introduce brightly colored toys to your baby. During your interactions, imitate behavior to your baby in an exaggerated manner to give him or her an early understanding of self and others.

3. The hippocampus—the area of the brain that is primarily associated with memory—is already 40% developed at birth, and will become fully developed when your baby is 18-months-old. While your child may recognize the sound of your voice, the typical time he or she is fed, and the unique characteristics of your face during the first 12 months of life, long term memory formation begins after your child’s first year and takes through his or her second year to fully mature.

4. Research out of Washington University in St. Louis suggests that the hippocampus is larger and better developed in children who received loving care, especially during high-stress situations, in an emotionally supportive environment. This enlightening study proves that there is no capacity for love—so nurture your little one by embracing the power of hugs, kisses, cuddles, and old fashioned TLC—and that nurturing your child from the start is critical for proper brain development. Protect your little one’s perfect skin by keeping it clean and healthy with new Huggies® Little Snugglers. Mom preferred over Pampers Swaddlers†, Huggies® Little Snugglers welcome your baby to the world with their best skin care and a soft, comforting hug.

5. Your newborn was born with three of his or her five senses almost fully developed, but the most acute sense at birth is smell. While your little one may not be able to clearly focus visually or understand language, he or she can process information through scent. Amazingly, it has been shown that newborns can correctly identify their mother’s milk when challenged to do so, as well as feel a sense of calm when given a piece of clothing that smells like her.

6. Because your newborn doesn’t have the ability to filter out noise, light, and touch stimulation, he or she may become easily distracted by the surroundings in an attempt to process the environment. Your little one may become fussy, hyperactive, or withdrawn when overstimulated, so it’s best to closely monitor his or her changing behaviors, especially when you’re in crowded, loud, and/or bright situations.

Your baby’s brain will develop faster in the first year than any other, so nurture that growth by loving, teaching and inspiring your child.

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The Power of the First Hug – Parents Meet Their Babies For The First Time

The first time you get to hold your newborn baby in your arms after birth is one of the most magical moments of parenthood. After nine months of dreaming about your baby, you finally get to meet your little one in the flesh. You count the tiny fingers and toes, admire the mop of hair (or the beautiful baldness), caress every soft inch of skin, inhale the sweetness of your little angel and give your first hug. You can’t believe you created this amazing creature.

Meeting for the first time is when you truly fall in love. Here are some stories parents shared with us:

  • “We tried to get pregnant for two years, so when the nurse finally handed my baby to me, the experience was beyond any expectation I had,” says Kelley McCarron of Mount Prospect, IL. “I looked into that little face and boom! ‘There you are,’ was all I could say to her. It was as if I was waiting on her my entire life. She was the missing piece of my family of two. She belonged. And here she was.”
  • Dreena Whitfield of Carteret, NJ, writes: “My son Gabe is 19 months now and honestly to see him for the first time was life-changing. There was an instant connection and overall feeling of love and selflessness. Even though I had carried him for nine months it was still a bit surreal to actually see him, hold him, hear his cry. Even when I think about it today it blows my mind that I'm someone's mom.” 

Sometimes loss makes the first hug even more special.

  • “After a year of trying to conceive, losing our first child and nine months of waiting to meet my son for the first time, I didn't think I'd have words to describe our first meeting,” says Victoria Schneider of Dallas, GA. “When they laid him on my chest his hands immediately found my fingers and wrapped themselves around them. He was quiet and I couldn't speak. I just looked at him and cried happy tears; tears of joy. He was bigger than I expected and I could already feel the connection between us. As I quietly sobbed he placed his other hand on my heart as if to say, ‘It's okay Mom, I'm here now and I love you.’" 

And dads have some of the same feelings:

  • “I will never forget the moment I watched my son take his very first breath,” says new dad Jordan Fried. “Nine months of anticipation and preparation did not even remotely prepare me for how I would feel in that moment. Seeing him ("Yes Mr. Fried, it's a boy!") enter into the world and have him placed into my hands gave me an overwhelming feeling of pure love, gratitude and joy all at once. Any fear and anxiety that had managed to creep in during the last few weeks ('Am I going to be a good father?' and 'What if business goes South?',  ran regular laps in my head) completely washed away the moment I saw this little life look right into my eyes and gasp his first breath. Don't get me wrong -- he was a gooey, slippery, almost alien-looking little guy, absolutely -- but he was my gooey little mess. And in his eyes I saw an entire new lifetime of deep, unique and beautiful experience just beginning. I held him close. He settled immediately. We both knew we were home.”

The bottom line is that it’s an awesome meeting whether it’s your first child or your third.

  • “I’m the mother of a soon-to-be five year old, a three year old and another (yes, third boy) on the way” says Maryland mom Jacqulyn Priestly. “Meeting my oldest for the first time was emotional. My mom and I cried in the delivery room and my husband stood there with so much pride and the biggest smile I had seen on his face since our wedding day. Our first hug was the moment when I felt like, ‘You’re mine….well, ours.’ When my second son was born 20 months later, I was less consumed with the delivery itself and more excited to meet our little guy, to smell him, to have that skin-to-skin feeling of their touch. And now, I have to admit, I’m all too excited to experience that newborn hug all over again in a matter of weeks.”

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Mom holding silly baby with toy in his mouth

How to Enjoy the Holidays While Caring for a Newborn

Baby’s first holiday season is a special time that will only happen once in his or her life.

So amid sleep deprivation, a fussy baby who needs to be held throughout the day, the 45 minute nap monster, and possibly still recovering from delivery, just how do you enjoy the holiday season with a newborn?

Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve used (and plan to try) to get the most out of my fleeting time with my newborn, in order to enjoy this special time of year as much as possible.

Take Shortcuts with Food Prep

So much of the holiday season is surrounded by one central theme; FOOD! Make your life easier by ordering store bought when possible. If it’s not in the budget, or you prefer homemade, take shortcuts like buying pre-diced onions, celery and carrots, common cooking staples of the season. Buy bagged and chopped lettuce, use boxed stuffing, or use pumpkin pie mix instead of making your pie completely from scratch. I also consistently use store bought pie crusts. Pastry crusts are not something that can be rushed and tried to squeeze in when baby is calm for 5 minutes. Taking and using these little shortcuts saves a few minutes here and there, but it all adds up, and saves your energy for the important things, like playing with your baby!

Skip Hosting

If you’re typically the hostess for the holiday gatherings, politely decline this year, if at all possible. No matter how many times family and friends tell you that they will do everything and all you have to do is just open up your home, you know that there will always be pre-cleanup and post-cleanup duty that will be left to you and your partner. We’ve decided to skip hosting this year and instead are driving a ways out to my sister’s house for turkey day, but the drive will be worth it knowing that I don’t have to worry about playing the hostess.

Take Extra Time to Plan for Baby’s Needs

If you’re traveling, set aside an extra few hours just for pre-planning! Make a list of items you will need to pack and think about ways to travel light. Can you rent a carseat, baby tub or a pack and play where you’re going? If items like diapers, formula, and even wipes can be purchased where you’re going, just pack a few of each in your diaper bag and don’t bother taking enough for your whole stay. Travel as light as possible is the key! What items are must-haves that you absolutely can’t forget? For us, it’s our sound machine and plenty of swaddling blankets. Make a plan so you don’t forget those in the rush of getting out the door (I write big reminder notes and leave them by my keys)! Taking just a bit of time upfront to plan will save you time, frustration and even some tears!

Simplify Your Gift Giving

Shop online when and where possible, and buy duplicate gifts. I have 13 nieces and nephews and many of them are very close in age and developmental stage, so this year instead of trying to thoughtfully pick out each individual gift like I normally do, I am buying the same gift for some nieces and nephews where appropriate. If you have a large extended family that you usually buy for, consider this year drawing names, a fun family tradition we have had for years. Each year at Thanksgiving the adults all put their name in a hat and we each pick one person to buy a gift for. This tradition saves time and money!

Combine Birth Announcements with Holiday Cards to Save Time

These are 2 traditions that typically take quite a bit of time and energy, so this year since our baby was born closer to the holidays, we are combining birth announcements and holiday cards into one! This saves time because we don’t have to take 2 sets of pictures, and I don’t have to address and mail out two separate items, and it obviously saves money. Most importantly though it saves my energy.

Intentionally Remind Yourself to Enjoy Your Baby

This sounds so silly and obvious, but if I am not intentional about setting time aside to stop and slow down, I can quickly lose myself in trying to make the holidays perfect in every detail. But I try to remind myself that it’s not the details that make a holiday perfect, but having the time to enjoy them with those I love the most.

Experience the comfort of Huggies Little Snugglers

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8 Props For Great Newborn Photos

Your baby is finally here and you’re quickly filling up the memory on your cellphone with photos of the little darling. Or maybe you’ve called in a professional to capture the beginning of your baby’s life in images that you will cherish forever.

You’ve taken all the basic shots of your newborn in the bassinette and being held by mom, dad, and all the grandparents, aunts and uncles. But what are you missing? Of course your newborn is precious all by him or herself, but it’s also fun to use props to show just how tiny baby is at this moment.

Here are some ideas from newborn photographer Christina Rae of Christina Rae Photography that may give you the perfect photo for your birth announcement, or at least a bunch that will look great framed on your fridge and grandma’s mantle.

  1.  It’s a wrap: Most babies love to be wrapped and swaddled because it gives them a feeling of warmth and security. Use a beautiful piece of fabric, a textured throw blanket or a favorite scarf which will highlight baby’s newborn skin.
  2. Top it off: Simple knit hats or bonnets are a great way to add some color and style to a newborn portrait. Did you get any hand-knit beanies as gifts? Or how about one with cute bunny ears or that looks like the top of a strawberry? Have fun with different toppers that show off baby’s beautiful face.
  3. A girly touch: A stretchy or decorative headband adds a little something special and is a pretty touch for a baby girl. 
  4. Furry friend: Taking an image with baby’s arm around a small stuffed animal is always super sweet.
  5. Doll baby: Similarly, position baby in a sturdy old-fashioned cradle for a cute photo op.
  6. My name is: Lie baby next to wooden blocks that spell out his or her name.
  7. Just the facts: Announce all the details that everyone wants to know by photographing your newborn next to a ruler, a clock showing the time of birth and a calendar with the date circled
  8. Current events: Place the birth in context by posing him or her next to the front page of the day’s newspaper or the current cover of a favorite news or fashion magazine.

In general, Rae says, “When choosing a prop, the simpler the better. You never want it to take over and distract from the baby, who should be the center of attention in a portrait. Neutral and soft colors will help ensure the images captured are timeless.”

And remember, safety is key, she says. “Choose fabrics that are soft and won’t scratch baby. Never place a newborn in or near anything made of glass and watch for any sharp edges. Never leave a newborn unattended with a prop and always keep baby within arm’s reach. All of these props should only be used during the photo op and removed immediately afterward.


Image : Getty

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X Number of Ways Your Life Will Change Post Baby

You’ve set up the nursery, stocked up on diapers, and read all the expecting baby books, but nothing can fully prepare you for the arrival of your new baby. Here are just a few examples of how your life is going to change in new and unexpected ways.

  1. You are on baby time. Forget your daily routine, your alarm clock, your live TV. Once your baby arrives your whole day will revolve around feeding, diaper changing and sleeping – when the baby sleeps. You will eventually develop a new regular schedule, but it will be dictated by your baby’s preferences and behavior, not your own.

  2. You will want to put the world in a bubble. Square table corners? Grandma’s purse? Door hinges? Everything suddenly takes on an ominous vibe and seems like potential baby danger. Baby proofing will actually be really fun (and you might stash a few outlet covers in your diaper bag – really).

  3. Taking a shower will be a fantastic luxury. Things you took for granted before baby, such as taking a hot shower uninterrupted, reading a book, or meeting a girlfriend for coffee, will now seem indulgent – and really special. Don’t forget to make time for yourself, but it will be harder to come by in the beginning.

  4. You will find your silly. Babbling, cooing, making goofy faces – get ready to bring out your silly side to engage and communicate with your baby. You’ll find yourself knowing every word to the most ridiculous children’s songs, dancing unconsciously to puppet videos playing on TV, and giving over your playlist priorities to making your baby happy. Unleashing your inner child will be one of the true delights of being a new mom.

  5. You will have new respect for your mom and the moms in your life. Caring for your baby, worrying over every little hiccup, persevering through sleepless nights, and putting yourself second will give you a new appreciation for what your parents went through raising you.

  6. Bodily functions and fluid will not faze you at all. Spit up? Vomit? Poop? No big deal. You’ll be cleaning up messes you never imagined possible, and then you’ll just move on with your day.

  7. You will see your body differently – and it will be different. After nine months of watching your body change you will now watch it transform again. You will have a new respect for what your body can do, and care a lot less about what other people think about it.

  8. You won’t take selfies; you’ll take hundreds of baby pictures instead. Instead of filtering everything just so, you’ll be busy taking endless photos of your baby and trying desperately to capture every single moment. And, of course you’ll be sharing them all with friends and family!

Enjoy the changes that come with having a new baby. Your life will never be the same - it will be richer and full of many wonderful surprises that no parenting book could ever prepare you for.

Image: Getty

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Tips for getting great baby pics.

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What New Moms Need

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Three things to keep in mind before you travel

Stick to your regular schedule

Try to schedule the departure of your trip around your baby's regular naptime or bedtime — if he has one. That way your baby will sleep for at least part of the trip. "I would recommend that a parent refrain from interrupting a baby's sleep schedule before a flight," says Daniel R. Bronfin, MD, clinical pediatrics professor at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans and physician at New Orleans' Ochsner Foundation Hospital. "Trying to sleep deprive an infant, for example, in order to make him/her sleep on the plane, will often backfire."

Planning ahead

Catharine Shaner, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician and advisor with the American Safety and Health Institute in Holiday, Florida, recommends parents try to schedule flights during non-peak times or days, so it is less crowded and less overstimulating for your baby, which can make for a very fussy baby. She also recommends parents call and confirm their travel itineraries with the airlines ahead of time. At that time, request any special seating requirements, such as asking for a bulkhead seat — where there is no seat in front of you — which should offer the most room.

"Some airlines do not make these available ahead of time and sometimes the bulkhead may be the emergency exit row," Dr Shaner says. The emergency exit rows are typically off limits for parents traveling with young children.

If you can't get a bulkhead seat, ask to be seated in a "noisy" area of the plane, recommends frequent flyer Phoebe Dey of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. "I think most airlines do this anyway, but if not, I would request it," she says. "Most of the babies were seated in the middle of the plane, right over the engines. Not only does it muffle some of the sound from crying babies, the vibration seems to knock the babies right out."

Elizabeth Pantley, parenting expert and author of Gentle Baby Care, says parents also should ask airlines if they have any special features for families traveling with babies. "Some companies offer bassinets, gate check for strollers or early boarding privileges."

What to bring

You probably will have loaded your suitcases up with all the essentials, but don't forget to have a diaper bag — preferably one you can carry as a backpack — handy and packed with the following:

  • Plenty of diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream for the trip. (Ask friends or relatives to have some diapers on hand for you at your final destination.)
  • A bag to hold dirty diapers, especially if you use cloth.
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer so you can "wash" your hands when you don't have access to water.
  • Bottles and extra pacifiers.
  • A baby blanket — good for warmth as well as for privacy when breastfeeding.
  • A change of clothes — or two — for Baby. You may also want to dress him in layers, since airplanes can be rather cold or get very hot!
  • An extra top for you (in case you are breastfeeding and leak breastmilk).
  • A travel-size diaper changing pad or disposable diaper changing cloths.
  • A small can of disinfectant spray or wipes that kills bacteria and viruses to clean surfaces where you change your baby, such as Lysol or VIROFREE.
  • A bottle of water for mixing formula and for you to keep hydrated! Make sure to ask the flight attendant for a cup of warm water to put the bottle in to heat the formula or breastmilk.
  • A bib, bowl, spoon and baby food if your baby is on solids, along with snacks for babies on solids.
  • A cloth to quickly wipe up spills or spit-up.
  • A carrying case that can keep pumped breastmilk bottles cold.
  • Some toys to keep baby entertained.

You may also want to bring an umbrella stroller — maybe even one that reclines — or a front carrier to make getting around the airport a lot easier. Typically, you will be allowed to check your stroller just before you board the plane and it will be stored with the luggage. The airline workers will then bring it up for you just after you get off the plane.

Kerry Zarend Camp of Memphis, Tennessee, first flew with her son when he was three months old. "I nursed him on take-off and landing — making many business men blush!" she says. "The flight attendants were very helpful and one was delighted to hold the baby while I used the restroom. Of course my dad got the terminal mixed up and was late to meet us so we were waiting a long time. I was very glad to have my stroller!"

Christina Tillsley, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, who flew with her baby when he was just a few months old, recommends changing your baby's diaper right before you board the plane. "Bring plenty of wipes and [zipper plastic] bags, plus any favorite 'lovies' your little one might have," she adds.

Dr Bronfin also suggests that along with your essential items that you try to make friends with those you are sitting next to on a plane. "You will feel a bit less guilty when the baby wails or spits up on them," he adds.

Pantley says if your baby is unhappy and begins to cry, take a deep breath and focus your attention on your baby. "Fellow passengers who are unhappy about the disruption may forget that you have as much right to be on the airplane as they do," she says. "They also may forget how difficult it is for a baby or young child to be patient during a long flight. Your best defense against an unpleasant stranger is to say with a smile, 'I'm doing the best I can.' And then tend to your baby."

Ear pain

When traveling by plane, the change in altitude, especially when taking off and landing, can cause an infant to wail! There are a few things you can do to keep his ears from hurting.

Dr. Bronfin recommends you either breastfeed your baby, offer him a bottle or give him something to suck on — like a pacifier — during takeoff and landing. This, he says, will prevent increased middle ear pressure and pain. Dr. Shaner says to keep nasal passages dry and to prevent stuffiness, parents should make sure their baby is well hydrated.

"Dry nasal passages make Eustachian tubes [in the ear] stickier and more difficult to operate," Dr. Shaner says. "It is important to begin as soon as the plane leaves the ground or as soon as the pilot announces the descent, for waiting too long may make simple maneuvers such as swallowing ineffective." Dr Shaner says a decongestant may help with nasal stuffiness and suggests giving the medication one hour before takeoff. Always check with your doctor before giving your baby any medications, to make sure the medication is suitable as well as for dosage allowances.

"It is NOT recommended to fly with a cold, sinus or ear infection," Dr Shaner warns. "Eardrums may rupture in those cases."

Pantley recommends taking your baby to your healthcare provider a week or two before your trip to ensure he isn't "harboring an ear infection or other illness. If possible, avoid exposing your child to other children the week before the flight so he's less likely to catch one of those many kid-carried bugs," she adds.

Along with taking care of your precious baby, don't forget to take care of yourself! If you are traveling just a few months after childbirth, don't be too hard on your body. "Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially if you are breastfeeding, and don't lift anything heavy off the carousel or anywhere else. You could easily hurt yourself," says Paula Shelton, of Wellington, New Zealand, creator of the website www.flyingwithkids.com. "When you nurse on the plane, make sure you use the pillows to support yourself, or invest in an inflatable lumbar support to help your back. It really makes a difference to be comfortable when feeding."

Safety

Dr. Shaner says the safest place for a baby during the flight is in an FAA-approved car seat. You may have to purchase a seat for your infant as well. Many airlines, however, do allow a child under the age of two to ride on your lap. "Check with the airline to see if your brand [of car seat] is approved when purchasing tickets," she says.

Sounds easy, right? Keep in mind you will soon be at your destination and in the arms of happy people who can't wait to see you and your baby! Just remember to take everything in stride, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride!

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