Top 5 Essentials for Travelling with Small Children

We went to Northern California recently to visit my cousin and hang at the beach for a while. When I first proposed the trip to Cory, he became visibly anxious at the idea of travelling with a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. Honestly, I think we hit the sweet spot for travelling since Juniper is still not mobile and easy to wear and Archer is still fairly easily distracted/entertained. The trip went as smoothly as it possibly could have and was even surprisingly relaxing! I highly recommend limiting your travel with small children to comfortable hotels/condos/rentals that provide sufficient fun without having to venture out constantly or with family, ideally family that also has small children. We did both.

In all of the travel I’ve done with one kid or two, short or small trips, there are a handful of items that have made things considerably easier for us. It never ceases to amaze me how many gadgets are invented each year for parents of babies and toddlers. It’s sometimes hard to leave all this (ahem, crap) at home, but very much worth it in order to travel light.

The Ergo Carrier

You would have to raise your children under a rock to not be familiar with the Ergo. Or, maybe I just feel that way because I live in a city full of urban hippies. The Ergo can be quickly and easily sized for either me or my husband to wear either of our kids. This makes it great for travel with two small kids because you can get around without a double stroller, but still quash toddler meltdowns in crowded areas if needed. It also allows one parent (my husband) to easily manage both little monkeys while the other parent (me) takes a much-needed break. Yea, Cory’s pretty awesome.

There are a million different baby carriers out there and it is worth researching to figure out which one (or two, or three) are best for you before you invest. I’ve tried a wide variety and the soft-sided carriers (namely, the Ergo) are my favorite. Here is a great comparison chart of soft-sided carriers. I second her opinion that the Baby Bjorn is the worst and a total waste of money.

Phil and Ted’s Wiggle Wrapper


I keep this in our car in case we go out to eat somewhere that doesn’t have highchairs. It’s especially convenient for travel since you can secure your little one to just about any chair for mealtime, playtime, or just to make sure your roving toddler doesn’t electrocute himself while you are taking a dump. It could happen.

Airlines will not allow you to use it during takeoff and landing, but we have found that it works better than trying to wear your squirmy worm whilst he ferociously kicks your neighbors elbows. P & T advertise that it works for securing them while sleeping, but our littles sleep on their tummies and I’m not sure how you would get your child to go to sleep while secured to the bed in the Wiggle Wrapper.

It’s about the size of a three DVDs stacked on each other and is functional for both our kids on just about any chair. Works for both kiddos, lightweight, and compact, what more do you want?

The UppaBaby G-Luxe Stroller

Unless you are an avid runner or crazed shopaholic, this could be the only stroller you ever need. It’s great for both babies and toddlers and easy to adjust when you switch…noticing a trend here? It’s comfortable for the kiddies with a nearly-full recline, adjustable footrest, large canopy, and padded seat. It’s comfortable for the parents with a good-size basket, cup holder, lightweight frame, and smooth maneuverability. It basically has all the tricked-out features of a high-end stroller on the body of an umbrella stroller.

Baby Food Squeeze Pouches

Do you taste your baby’s food? I do. And when she doesn’t like something, I’m usually not surprised because it makes me want to gag as well. I discovered the Peter Rabbit brand while in California and it is delicious! They do a good job of letting the flavor of their vegetables not be overpowered by the fruit. I try to make baby food at home when I can, but these packets just can’t be beat for travel. Skip the little spoon gadget, (it just over fills the spoon and makes a mess) and wrap up a baby spoon in one of these stellar bibs that easily wipes clean.

Toddler Nap Mat

Our two-year old attends Montessori School and sleeps on the nap mat that I made for him using this tutorial. It fits perfectly in the front pocket of my huge new hot pink suitcase and the familiarity helps to keep him from crawling into bed with us. My favorite nap mats for purchase are the Pottery Barns versions above, but if you know your way around a sewing machine, it’s fairly easy to make one. I love Michael Miller’s flannel prints and used Zoology for Archer’s mat.

It’s easy enough to get a pack and play from hotels for the baby, but our two-year-old is way too big for travel cribs and way too squirmy to sleep with us. It’s much easier to stuff his nap mat in the suitcase than to pay for a room with an extra bed or make arrangements for an extra bed at someone’s house. It also doubles as a play mat for both kids instead of having them spread out all over the floor.

Regardless of what you decide to pack (or leave behind) when travelling with small children, the most important thing is to just get out there. I’m proud to say that we conquered a week-long out-of-state trip with an infant and toddler and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There are a million and one tips on travelling with kids but, ultimately, the more you do it, the easier it will be. So have faith in your kids and go book yourself a ticket!

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My Cloth Diaper Overview

This is an old post from Archer’s baby blog, which I deleted. A lot has changed since then and I plan on writing a more current post on diapers sometime soon.

It took some convincing to get Cory to even try cloth diapers and I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous as well, but I think it was one of the best decisions we made as new parents. I had to distill my thoughts on cloth diapers in hopes that it would inspire at least one other mom to give it a try. Below are my top reasons why I love cloth diapers and a quick review of what I’ve used so far.

Ecologically sound

Well, duh. This has got to be the number 1 reason and the most obvious. I’m not even going to go into the finer points on the environmental impact of disposable diapers. Dig a little into the life cycle of a disposable diaper (from the resources used to create it, to the eternity that it will spend in a landfill) and prepare to be disgusted. There is still a bit of debate over the environmental impact of cloth vs. disposable, mostly because of the water & electricity used to wash cloth diapers. I am a big fan of the fact that his poop will be going into the toilet and not sitting in a pile in his room or leaching into our water source from a landfill. Although, while my children were on a breastmilk-only diet, their water-soluble poop went straight into the wash. The environmental factor was the original driver behind my experimentation with cloth diapers, but after using them for over two years, through two kids, I’ve discovered so many other great reasons to use cloth.

Baby butt feel

Have you ever held a baby and felt like you had a Ziploc bag full of jelly in your hand? Cloth diapers are firm and more snug around the bum. It feels like your little one is wearing a pair of thick, cozy underwear instead of feeling and sounding like he’s swaddled in a grocery bag. Try snuggling with a grocery bag.

Cute factor

Every time I put a diaper on, I get to pick from a rainbow of colors and patterns. If you have a girl, you never need to bother with those cutesy little panty-like diaper covers because you will already have diapers that coordinate with all of her outfits. And, my kids run around in nothing but a diaper so often, it’s nice to have cute ones instead of wrapping them in a piece of trash.

More polite

If you don’t have children in diapers, why would you want dirty diapers sitting in your trash? I know I would have been slightly disgusted to find stinky diapers in our trash before we had Archer. If you’re out and about, there isn’t always a trashcan available. I always have a wet bag with me that all of the dirties go into and get zipped up for stink-free transport into the hamper at home. It’s no less convenient than putting the dirty diaper in someone’s trash to be re-gifted when they least expect it. I even used all cloth when we traveled away for several days. I just took along the hamper-sized wet bag that we use at home and washed all the dirties when we got home. It didn’t smell in the car, I didn’t leave a smell at my Aunt’s house, and I continued to enjoy all the awesomeness of cloth diapers on the road!

Early potty training

Cloth diapered children generally use the toilet earlier because the moisture is not wicked away as much as in a disposable. The discomfort of being wet encourages them to learn to control it more quickly.

Cost

Here is a great rundown of the cost of cloth diapers as compared to disposables. The real value comes in when you have a second child who can use all of the cloth diapers that the first one used. Even if you only have one child, it’s difficult to argue with the value of cloth over disposable.

I think many new parents still believe that cloth diapers will be a hassle, or too expensive, or inconvenient/gross to wash. My husband has two left hands and if he can learn to fold a cloth diaper, then anyone can. We prefer the traditional pre-fold diaper with waterproof cover over the all-in-one style or pocket diaper because it is such a workhorse. I can think of maybe one time that this combo has leaked on us. Pre-folds are also much less expensive than the all-in-one diapers and more durable.  We have spent about $500 on cloth diapers and cloth wipes, not including the diaper service that we used in the beginning. And with regard to washing, I do about one and a half extra loads of laundry per week. We could easily purchase a handful more diapers and cut that back to one extra load. You’re already going to be doing more laundry with a baby in the house, and you can double that if you are using disposables because of the constant outfit and sheet changes due to major pee leakage!
And finally, a review…

Pre-folds

Hands-down my favorite. Yes, there is a slight learning curve to folding, but it’s easier than it looks. We started with a diaper service, but now we are using Bummis Organic Cotton pre-folds, Blueberry Snap coversbumGenius Flip covers, and a Snappi. I love that these prefolds are so affordable AND organic, since cotton is a crop that is often heavily covered with pesticides. Both covers are super-adjustable and I prefer the snaps over Velcro both because of what Velcro picks up in the laundry and because Archer startles easily at the sound of the Velcro. The Blueberry covers are larger in the rear and have gussets along the thigh which keep the whole pre-fold covered, but can make the diaper seem a bit more bulky, whereas the Flip covers are meant to go with their inserts and are more slim around the bum. If the pre-fold is not folded snugly, it will often peek out of the Flip cover a bit.

Pocket diapers

My other favorite has been Fuzzibunz One-size pocket diaper. These come in so many fun colors, they are super adjustable, and super soft. Again, I like that they do not use Velcro. They come with extra elastic that is super easy to replace with the use of buttons. I foresee these lasting us quite a long time. I also bought some used bumGenius one-size diapers with Velcro closure. Unfortunately, I have not gotten around to replacing the Velcro and I’m not sure that I ever will since it seems that the elastic needs replacing as well and I just don’t have the time. I’ve heard rave reviews about these and I would probably buy the version with the snap closure.

Hybrids

We’ve tried the G diapers and the bumGenius Flip system with the disposable inserts. Both of these options are almost worse than regular disposables. The G diaper covers are not even waterproof so when they leak, they really leak. I was disappointed that these didn’t work better because the covers are super soft and cute. The inserts are supposedly biodegradable, although I have heard from many people NOT to flush these down the toilet as the manufacturer suggests. The Flip system is slightly better because of the waterproof cover, but neither the cloth nor the disposable insert is enough to keep the cover clean and the disposable insert is not biodegradable. I would shy away from any diaper that has a pad only instead of a complete interior liner to wick away moisture and prevent explosions.

Cloth wipes

If you’re going to use cloth diapers, and I hope you will after reading this, you might as well use cloth wipes too! They don’t add much to your laundry, you save a bundle, and they can be re-purposed as cleaning rags. I have a handful of used ones which I purchased from a friend, a handful of Fuzzibunz double-sided wipes, which I  love, and we just purchased a handful of Grovia terry wipes which I haven’t washed yet, but they feel pretty soft. We have been using the following wipes solution recipe:
1 C. distilled water
1 Tbs. Vitamin E oil
1 Tbs. Dr. Bronner’s castille soap

This seems to work well so far, but I’ve read that the oil could cause residue build-up on the diapers. I’m not terribly concerned because we use so little of it.
Last, but certainly not least, I recommend Kelly’s Closet for most of your cloth diaper needs. They have a wide selection, free shipping on orders over $50, a great customer rewards program, and helpful customer service. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, some of the best prices too!