Saturday, November 14, 2009

Traveling with tyke in tow...

Ah ha... two posts today! This second one would be on what we learnt while traveling with baby. For our Yunnan trip, we found that what worked was bringing along the:

1. Rice crakers: To keep him occupied during mealtimes, while we ate!

2. Munchkin duckie tub: Some of the bathtubs at the places we stayed in were too slippery for the boy to sit inside (and he panics if he slips inside the tub!), so the tub came in really handy.

3. Hand and mouth wipes: We found these super useful for cleaning toys that he dropped, as well as grimy fingers and faces when we were out and about. Was nice to know that it was made with 100% food grade ingredients as well!

4. Sack N Seat: This was a life-saver, as most places we went to didn't provide a high-chair, but had high-backed chairs we could use along with the Sack N Seat... It made a HUGE difference, being able to eat with two hands free, and with no little hands grabbing rice from your bowl! It also meant that the little fellow could join us at the table.

5. Travel crib: Baby J was cranky certain nights so sometimes he slept with us on the bed, but the crib came in really handy as a play pen, where I could plop him in when I had to dress and get ready to go out in the day.

6. Sunscreen: UV Radiation is a problem in Yunnan due to the higher altitude, so sunscreen for baby J was a MUST.

7. Fisherman's hat: Another must thanks to the radiation! The all-round brim meant his ears were protected as well, compared to if we had use a normal cap.

8. Aqueous cream: The air was so dry that baby J started having a few spots of eczema, so having the cream at hand helped to sooth the dryness. We brought lanolin nursing cream along in case his lips started to dry out, but found we didn't need it...

9. Nursing cover: This one was a must, since it helped me to nurse the boy everywhere, be it in the ambulance, in the restaurant, and in the plane!

10. Baby carrier: This was another life-saver, as it was close to impossible to use the pram in Yunnan! It made exploring really easy as you don't need to worry about kerbs and stairs and ruts in the ground. Baby J liked to be carried up high too as it meant he could see everything that went by, and he was able to sleep in the carrier on ambulance rides.

What was a total waste of luggage space:
1. The pram: Suffice to say that we wheeled baby J to board the plane headed for China, collapsed the frame, and never opened up the pram again for the entire trip! However, if you are headed to the larger, more developed cities, the pram would probably help to ease your aching back!

2. The car seat: Since we didn't get to use it on the first plane ride (the airline tried shifting the lady next to us to a better seat behind so we could use the seat, but she absolutely refused unless she was upgraded to business class), the car seat was more a hassle as we had to carry that along with our hand luggage. I used it to feed baby J meals at the hotel, and we used it on the Pajero while traveling, but the ambulance had no seatbelts so we couldn't use it there. We'll probably bring it for future trips if we were renting a car, otherwise, the seat can be pretty troublesome to tote around.  Oh, and because we forgot to clip the belt in when checking it in, the padding for the straps got lost!

The challenges:
Baby J is a pretty good traveler I would say, and even most of the medical team that were with us remarked how well-behaved he was when he was out. Everyone took turns helping to carry him during meals when the boy got restless so that we could eat, and we just made sure the boy had toys and biscuits to amuse himself during meal-times. When I had to care for him in the day on my own, he would get cranky when he was put in the crib, so it was just a matter of getting things done bit by bit while popping by the cot every few minutes to chat and play with the fellow.

One interesting thing the locals did after every dinner was to mark baby J on the forehead with black pigment... and we found out that they believed that it protected the child from evil on his journey home in the dark. However, another thing we observed was that the locals smoked everywhere. In the restaurants, at the table after a meal, in the hotel, and even in the hospital! It was challenging trying to avoid the smoke, so we would take turns (and even the other team mates!) to carry the boy outside during meals so that he wouldn't get exposed to so much smoke.

Ah well... We survived, so traveling wasn't such a major headache after all!

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