Flying with Baby

As the holidays approach, many new parents travel great distances for the first time with their baby to visit family or friends. I distinctly remember my first plane ride with my son. He was only 6 months old and I was travelling solo to visit my parents in sunny Florida for a much needed mental health break.

I was scared and combed the internet for tips on how to best travel with a baby. Based on my experience, here are my top tips:

  1. The best tip I received was bring your baby carrier! It was a blessing! It allowed me to have free hands to fold up the stroller, carry my bags and walk safely onto the plane. I also found my son was more content in it due to how overwhelming the new experience was.
  2. Bring and use your stroller. Your baby will love the journey, you have somewhere to put all your stuff and best of all, gate checking your stroller is free! My recommendation is to buy a stroller bag, you can get cheap ones online that fit most strollers. They are a pain to put on but keeps your stroller protected from the elements (your stroller will be taken outside and could be left in the rain for a period of time before it’s either taken on or off the plane) and the bag keeps all the parts together in case your stroller suffers some abuse.
  3. Pre-plan your journey through the airport especially if you’re travelling alone as unless it packs into the stroller, don’t take it. You only have two hands! Consider what are you taking, how are you going to carry everything, will going through security be a hassle or a breeze, etc
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone inherently wants to lend a hand, even the most crusty of people will grumble all the while helping you.
  5. Ask one of the flight attendants to hold baby while you use the restroom. Gives you a few moments of reprieve and it’s safer in case of turbulence.
  6. Pack smartly for the plane. I am notorious for overpacking to a fault. It’s stressful, time consuming and means you’re constantly lugging around things that will never be used and trying to find a place for them.
      1. An extra change of clothes for everyone is a definite. For you, it’s easy to throw a t-shirt and a pair of leggings into the diaper bag just in case. Better to be clothed than sitting in a mess for hours! Pack those extra clothes in a giant ziploc, as it keeps them dry in case of spills and you have somewhere to put soiled clothes if needed.
      2. Diapers and wipes. One area you may want to pack a few extras of.
      3. Just a couple of activities, best if they are new. I tend to overdo it with activities which means I have so much to carry but my son is more than content and always has been with the new environment and the people.
  7. Use the washroom before you board the plane. This applies for everyone of all ages! It’s much easier and more spacious to use the airport restroom than the airplane toilet. With your baby, you have the room you need to change them and you’re not pressured by someone knocking on the door.
  8. Get an extra seat. If financially feasible, purchase a seat for baby even though they fly for free or before you board, ask the flight attendant if there is an empty row or somewhere with an extra seat to give you more room. I have found that the flight attendants are usually the ones offering it up and while my son was an infant, they were more than accommodating with rearranging people to give me a full row to myself and my son. The extra seat allows you to put down baby, especially while they are sleeping.

For older kids, some of the above still applies!

  1. When my son was newly potty trained, I would ask him to still wear a pull up right before we got onto the plane and took it off after we exited. As usually he would fall sleep on the plane or have to go when we couldn’t leave our seats.
  2. We are strict on screen time but planes are the one time where he gets free rein. Download a couple movies, shows or apps that is new to your little one. It gives them something to look forward to and keeps them occupied as it’s special and out of the norm.
  3. Activities. Bring some new but don’t overdo it as you need to carry them, keep track of them and they don’t tend to be used in my experience. I usually buy my son a new book and activity pad to do on the play but that’s it. I also highly recommend sticking to crayons or pencil crayons as markers end up everywhere and on everything!
  4. Snacks. Bento boxes, ice cube trays, etc are great to fill up with little munchies that keep them occupied and satisfied! Bonus, bring a bag of Cheerios and a string, have them lace the cheerios into a necklace and you have a two in one activity and snack!!!
  5. Blanket. A small fleece blanket is fantastic for a cool plane and doubles as a pillow if someone gets sleepy!

And the best tip of all is just roll with it! Travelling is stressful enough and if you’re stressed, your little one will be stressed too! As all moms do, we worry about what if our baby screams or your toddler is a nightmare the entire flight and if everyone seated around you will hate you. Your baby may scream and others may hate that but who cares, your priority is your child and adults can get up and go for a walk if they need to. We’ve all heard those amazing social media stories about that mom who gifts everyone a snack and earplugs in case her child cries but it’s unnecessary, adds added pressure and really you’re setting yourself up for failure. Hope for the best and things will work out!

If your kids are anything like mine, the talk about Santa has probably started in your house.

Luckily for us here in Winnipeg, Santa will be making several local appearances over the coming weeks. Being new to the city, I reached out to Santa’s head of events who helped me put together this great list! If you have any that I’m missing, definitely let me know and I will update.

Here’s a round-up of his upcoming appearances so you can get out to see the big man in in red in person.

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Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade

Date: Saturday November 16th

Time: starting at 5pm

Cost: Free

Bundle up your crew and join the festivities with the parade starting at 5pm at Portage & Young, continuing along Portage ending at Westbrook. According to their website it will take about an hour from the first float until the last with the jolly man himself! Santa reaches end of the route at Westbrook at approximately 6:50pm.

Come early and start the party at 2pm at Santa’s Workshop.

If you would rather enjoy the parade in the warmth of your home, make it party, event some friends and family for your own festivities  and tune in watch the parade on CTV. They will stream live at 5pm with the highlights at 6:30pm.

CP Holiday Train

Date: Monday December 2nd

Time: 9pm

Cost: Donations (either monetary or health food)

Knowing how much my son loves trains, my father in law sent me this incredible national event.    Not sure if I will be keeping my 5 year old up hours past his bedtime but having gone to it in Toronto, it’s so worth it!!! The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, is a real train that visits over 150 communities across North America. With brightly lit festive box cars and a great line up of musical talent, the goal of is to collect food and money for local food banks while raising awareness of the fight against hunger (while delighting local children in the process). According to its website: since 1999, the Holiday Train has raised more than CAD $15.8 million and 4.5 million pounds of food for North American food banks. Everything raised in a community stays in that community. In addition, CP makes a donation at each stop.

The CP Holiday Train will make its only Winnipeg stop at the grade railway crossing on Panet Road & Molson Street at 9pm with the festivities from 9:15 to 9:45pm. Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo will perform!

FortWhyte Alive

Date: Multiple

Cost: varies

I have yet to go but have heard amazing things about FortWhyte Alive. For the holiday season, they have a few events with jolly Santa:

Santa in the Forest where Santa will make three special appearances (November 23, 24 & December 1) with photographers on hand to take a family portrait in the forest. Santa will be on hand for your little one(s) to share their wishlist.

Breakfast with Santa takes place December 14th from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast at the Buffalo Stone Café and meet the man in red himself, Santa!

Zoolights Festival

Dates: November 30 – January 5

Time: 5pm – 9pm

Cost: $12pp

The Assiniboine Park & Zoo Zoolights Festival is one event this Griswold loving family won’t be missing! According to the website, it will feature thousands of light installations brought to life in a magically illuminated winter town: Polar Town. Zoo Lights Festival will feature interactive experiences, entertainment, a Third + Bird market, great food, and much more! This event runs from November 30th to January 5th with Santa visiting November 30th – December 23rd.

Lights of the North

Dates: December 5 – January 2

Time: ?

Cost: $74 for a family pass

This indoor light festival and Christmas market is the perfect event for the cold winter… it’s indoors! With plenty to do in the Hudson’s Bay building downtown at 450 Portage, including exhibits, light tunnels, music, food, kids areas and visits from Santa and his elves.

 

First honourable mention goes to…

Manitoba Children’s Museum

Dates: November 16, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Cost: Included with general Admission

 

While there is no actual mention of Santa making an appearance, when I think of the magic of Christmas there is nothing more special than the shop windows of major department stores. As a child I have fond memories of see the Eaton’s and the Bay’s vignettes in downtown Toronto and as an adult my dream was to visit New York City at Christmas to see the shop windows and displays which my husband surprised me with years ago. The Manitoba Children’s Museum has recreated those memories and is home of the last original Eaton’s Fairytale Vignettes Display from the ninth floor annex of the Eaton’s downtown store. Visitors will experience the magic of fifteen vignettes including Cinderella, Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice, and more.

Second honourable mention goes to…

Polar Bear Lane and Candy Cane Lane

One of our family traditions, because we are part Griswold, was to travel throughout the greater Toronto area looking for the best Christmas light displays. Happy to say our house was definitely part of it, along with our immediate neighbours, so much so, the locals in our area renamed our part of the street Coney Corner Christmas! When we were looking at houses here in Winnipeg, our real estate agent mentioned the infamous Polar Bear Lane and Candy Cane Lane! We were totally excited! So, warm up your car, put on your matching family Santa hats and travel over to Hennessey Drive and Foxmeadow Drive.

Goblins, ghosts and ghouls OH MY!

Tomorrow is Halloween and it’s awesome to drive around our city seeing the houses decorated.

A Halloween topic near and dear to my heart is food allergies! I have been anaphylactic to peanuts and allergic to tree nuts since very early childhood. From early on in my son’s life, I have explained to him that nuts can make me very sick and we cannot have them. He is my biggest advocate and likes to remind others of my allergies. So needless to say, Halloween has always been super tricky for me and now as a mom I worry about the reaction from my son when he has to get rid of half his loot or more because of the nuts. From his point of view, he works super hard for all that candy and goodies and then is told he can’t keep it all. That sucks! Yep, I’m that person that takes candy from a baby.

The past two Halloween’s just after he turned 3 and 4, we have taken him out trick or treating with some close friends of ours. Both years, everyone returns to our house for a few treats and to wind down the night. That time of night is also when my son being made to go through his bag and take out everything with nuts. Both years it’s been a surprising amount of treats with nuts where he is left with much less than half. Those nutty little chocolates go to our friends’ kids.

Seeing my son take out and match all the nut filled goodies into a giveaway pile as he keeps a close eye on what’s left, which ends up being rather meagre, is heartbreaking.

But when you place trust in kids and provide sufficient explanation to the situation, magic can happen…

Both years, my son has handed over, without question or complaint, his part of the Halloween loot he cannot have to his friends. And both years, his friends have happily gone through their own bags without demand or interference of adults and given my son replacements “because its only fair”. That is magic!

Wish me luck this year! 

First snow of 2019

Oh no it’s snow!

It’s October 10th and Winnipeg is seeing it’s first snow fall of the season which sets off a general sense of panic.

Snowtires! Snowsuits! Snowboots! What do I need to brave the early winter? Better yet, what does my child need?!

Depending on the age, the needs vary but safety always come first. When we speak of winter and kids we need to keep in mind that bulky clothing and carseats do not mix! If your babe is still in a bucket seat a warm hat that doesn’t easily slide over the baby’s face, a long sleeve onesie, thin sweater, pants and socks (shoes are optional but oh so cute!) are all that’s necessary. Buckle baby in and from there layer with blankets from thinest to thickest depending on how cold it is, keeping in mind your baby may only need an additional layer than you would to keep them warm. Once your bundled joy is in the car, remove the warmest layer and set aside for leaving the car.

If your child is out of a bucket seat and in 5-point harness or booster, the same rules apply. No bulky clothing between your child and the restraints. Technically the same should go for us adults. Dress your mini-me as you normally would along with a hat and gloves, but once they get to the car, the bulky jackets come off before your child gets strapped in. You can always layer your child with a thin fleece sweater to keep them warm and a great trick after buckling them in is to put their jacket on backwards which keeps them warm and allows them to remove it if they get too hot. Blankets are always a perfect option to keep in the back seat that they can pull on and off as they need.

Finally, snow gear. In my limited experience jackets are a purely personal choice – long, short, thin, thick, rainbow, furry, all up to you. The snowpants are tricky – I have found the best are thin, bib style (keeps the snow out), with reenforced material in the knees, bum and ankles. Those areas wear the fastest. For boots, the lighter the better and give the sole a bend, if they bend easy, your child will have an easier time walking in them. The best boots are those that are definitely waterproof and all one unit with a velcro closure around the ankle and a tie around the calf which keeps the snow out and feet warm and dry.

Best of luck! Happy snowfamily making.

Hey Winnipeg mamas (and mamas-to-be)! I’m Erin, and I’m thrilled to be the Director of the brand new Winnipeg chapter of Mommy Connections.

For those who haven’t heard of us, Mommy Connections offers a place for you and your babe to learn, laugh and connect with others in a meaningful way through weekly programs for moms-to-be, moms and babies (0 to 18 months), and moms and toddlers (18 months to 4 years).

Classes are fun, welcoming and packed with value. Each one includes aninformative discussion led by a local parenting expert and/or a fun activity as well as the opportunity to socialize with others at the same stage as you.

Every participant receives a free swag bag full of samples and discounts from local businesses plus a professionally taken photo of you and your child.

Stay tuned to this feed for upcoming session or, better yet, click https://www.mommyconnections.ca/…/conta…/newsletter-sign-up/ to join our email list and receive updates right in your inbox.

Hope to ‘connect’ with you soon!

ErinMartin_MommyConnectionsWinnipeg

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