Baby Led Weaning on Vacation
Did you see my post last week about doing baby led weaning at restaurants?
When I first sat down to write this post, I thought “Well, it’s basically the same thing as the restaurant post, right?” When you’re on vacation, you are eating out more often (okay, that’s how we vacation, anyway), so how will this post be any different? What can I add? How can I expound on the last post? I might have figured it out.
There are lots of types of vacations. Let’s assume each type is one week, for the sake of example.
- One destination: Fly to one city, stay in the same city the whole time, fly back home.
- Road trip! In the car for several hours a day, or more. A few nights here, a few nights there.
- Big city: Fly or drive to a major city that doesn’t require driving once there. Walking, and more walking.
- Camping: In the middle of nowhere. No restaurants. Everything cooked on an open flame (or maybe in a cabin).
- Visiting relatives (aka Holiday trip): Drive or fly. Stay in someone’s home. They do most of the cooking. (You might not consider this type of trip a “vacation”….)
There are so many considerations. For these trips, there will be things in common as well as major differences. I’m going to offer some general suggestions as well as specific suggestions/tips for the type of vacation you are planning.
1. Eating at restaurants
I suggest you go back and read my previous post! Basically, it’s definitely possible to eat at restaurants while you’re on vacation with a baby. If you have the finances to eat out at every meal, here are a few things to remember:
- Try not to eat out when it is your baby’s nap time or when the crowds will peak. (NOTE: If you are in New York City, for example — I lived there about 4 years — most places in the city are going to be crowded no matter what time of day!)
- If you want to try a fancy restaurant, go for lunch instead of dinner so it isn’t as crowded!
- Check out the menu ahead of time.
2. Taking food “to go”
In every town, there’s that one restaurant that is a local favorite (in big cities, there are a lot more than one). If you find that your baby is overwhelmed with the trip and isn’t doing great at other restaurants, see if you can take something to go from the local spot. It might not be quite the same experience, but you may be able to eat in peace at your hotel.
Another idea? If the weather is nice, take the food and eat it at a local park or by some water, if it exists. And then, no clean up afterward!
3. Lots of walking
No matter what sort of city (or campsite!) you find yourself in, you’ll no doubt do more walking than usual. And sometimes, finding a decent, inexpensive snack for you (and baby) is not always possible. Come up with a few snacks that your baby loves. Alexander loves blueberries, raisins, grapes, Cheerios, and veggie sticks, and those are all easy enough to stick into plastic bags or small containers and put in a purse.
Remember: you don’t want anything too messy or sticky. It shouldn’t need to be cold or hot (such as yogurt, which is usually served cooler).
4. Planes, trains, and automobiles
On an airplane or train, it’s a little easier to feed baby. If it’s a short flight, just bring a bottle or nurse. If it’s a longer flight (or ride), bring some snacks like the ones mentioned in #3. I would also suggest packing something a little more substantial: pancakes and drop scones travel really well and are tasty at room temperature. I particularly enjoy the cheesy drop scones when we are on an airplane, and I can give small bites to Alexander too.
In a car, I don’t recommend feeding your baby solid foods while driving, since the slightly reclined position can be a choking hazard. If possible, please try to find a rest stop or picnic area where you can pull over and have a snack safely.
5. Eating at the hotel
I have been through this a few times, so I have some thoughts.
- Call the hotel to see if they have any highchairs you can rent for your room.
- Purchase a travel highchair (like this one).
- If your baby can sit really well, put a towel underneath him/her and put the food on a small plate or directly onto the towel if you’re comfortable doing that!
- If food falls onto the carpet, I would not give it to my baby! If it happens at home, I’m okay with it, and I usually just blow it off and give it back to him. But at a hotel? No way. I have no idea how often they are really cleaned (and not just vacuumed), and it just doesn’t sit right with me! That’s a preference thing.
6. The holidays
When you travel to visit family, sometimes you stay with family. If your baby happens to be a young eater, and you’re following strict baby led weaning, your relatives might completely freak out. Be prepared! Be confident. If you know what to expect, you will only impress anyone who might be unsure of the method. Stand guard, as some folks may freak out if there is any gagging and actually try to intervene instead of letting baby handle the food himself. (We were all there at one point! That first gagging incident — and second and third — are a little unsettling.) If your Uncle Marty has never seen it, he might try to be a hero and smack baby’s back, but it’s important that you are confident and prepared for that possibility.
A few more things to remember:
- We were in New Orleans with Alexander, and nearly every restaurant we visited had no vegetables as a side dish. Sure, there was fried okra and french fries, which count for something, but as far as “steamed vegetables” or “broccoli and cauliflower” or “baby carrots” or a sweet potato or (any other vegetable you can think of), there wasn’t any. So we decided we weren’t going to sweat it. We would let Alexander have a lot of fruit (because it’s easier to find), french fries are not the worst thing in the world, and I made sure to nurse a lot. He had some snacks at the hotel, and he ate a lot of french fries. It’s just one week: one week of less-than-stellar eating is not the worst thing in the world. In other words, don’t beat yourself up.
- Vacations can sometimes be really stressful and overwhelming for a baby. They are in a new place, they are out and about a lot more, their schedule may be way off. That sort of thing can absolutely affect a baby’s appetite. So if your normally ravenous 9-month-old all of the sudden turns up her nose to her regular favorites, don’t fret! I’m sure she will be back to normal when you return home.
Is there anything I left out?
Have you vacationed with your baby? How did it go?