How to Road Trip with an Infant or Toddler (without Screen Time)

On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again – but really, I can wait. Just thinking about sitting in a car for 9+ hours with your “might start having a tantrum any time” child is enough to give you cold sweats, but with a little preparation and advice you can do it!

When my husband and I moved to Colorado we knew that we would be spending a considerable amount of hours in a car traveling back to the Midwest to see family. Once we decided to start a family, those journeys instantly changed – it now takes more stops, more food, more entertaining, less listening to podcasts together, more one of us driving/one of us in the backseat with the child, etc. Needless to say, we have made more 9-12 hour road trips in the last 2.5  years (1.5 years with a child) that I can even remember so although I am not an expert, I do have some advice if you would like it.

1 → Make sure your carseat is comfortable for your little one. Adjust the straps as needed. Double check that it is level. Align the mirrors before you leave so you are 100% sure you can see your child. Take a test drive during the time of day you will be traveling and in the direction you will be traveling to see if the sun is shining on your child’s face (I 100% wish I would’ve known to do this before our first 4-5 trips – unnecessary stops to try to hang up a jacket or blanket to block the sun were a complete nuisance!). Take inventory of the vents – you don’t want cold or hot air blowing on your child’s face the whole trip!

2 → Invest in a portable sound machine – you may not think you need it, but taking naps in the car is not always easy for infants so something soothing is often necessary to reach a deep sleep. I didn’t need to use one with my first son because he was a champ in the car, but so far my second babe is having a little bit harder of a time falling to sleep in his carseat so I will definitely jump on this advice when we make the first trek to Iowa with the 2 kids.

3 → Plan your stops ahead of time. This can be challenging if you aren’t sure what’s along your route, but do your best to stop ONLY when you need to feed a child or change a diaper. Feed right before you leave which gives you 2-4 hours of drive time before an infant will need to eat (in most cases). Pump during drive time (if you’re the passenger of course). Never, I repeat never give a young infant a bottle while still in the car seat – not safe! Compound your stops – gas, food, bathroom break, diaper changes, feedings, toddler food, dog potty breaks, etc ALL IN ONE STOP. Yes, it will be a lengthy stop, but you will only have to exit the highway once and everyone will be happy and ready to roll again for another 2-4 hour block. We have managed to get a 9.5 hour trip down to 3 stops (and one is to grab a quick breakfast (<10 minutes) without the toddler even getting out of his seat). Sorry adults, you might have to hold it occasionally. 

4 → Snacks, snacks, snacks. Once your child is old enough to safely eat snacks while in his carseat, stock up! My son is 1.5 years old and we load a reusable shopping bag with Plum packets, applesauce packets, Cheerios, Goldfish, bananas, and freeze dried fruit. A hangry kid = a grumpy mama. We would not survive without these Munchkin cups. Take a lunchbox with milk – I usually just fill a coffee tumbler with milk and dump it into a sippy cup as needed on the road.

Toy Bag (+ dog)

Fisher Price Laugh and     Learn Puppy

5 → Make the toys you bring seem new. The week or two before you go, hide a few toys from your child so that when the trip rolls around they will be excited to see their toy again. Another great piece of advice – borrow toys and books from friends. Your child will think it is a brand new thing and it will automatically be twice as entertaining as his or her own stuff. I pack a Thirty-One bag full of toys and books and set it right beside the carseat. My toddler is old enough to reach in and grab a few things, plus it is easy access for me to reach back and hand him something. Not only does it keep things organized in the car, but you can easily take toys into grandma and grandpa’s if you need to because they are all in one bag instead of being strewn about the van. This was a favorite toy for us from about 8-14 months.

 

 

These are really the five things that have made our trips way less stressful and therefore shorter. I can honestly say I have only used screen time once with my son during our road trips, and it was because he just wasn’t having the car anymore during the last 45 minutes of our trip, and THAT’S OKAY. You can’t and shouldn’t expect children to love being in a vehicle for 9+ hours every time so do what you have to do mamas, but if you try to implement some of the things I recommended above, I promise you will want to shove your child at grandma a little bit less when you arrive.

Four Ingredient Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Toddler Cookies (Egg Free, Dairy Free, Added Sugar Free)

°Want a treat for your toddler you can feel good about giving them? These 4 ingredient cookies will have them fooled into thinking they are eating a sugary cookie (but they’re not!), and you can enjoy your Oreo in peace 🙂

It seems like no matter what I am eating, my toddler HAS to have a bite – and 99% of the time he doesn’t even know what it is! Am I alone in this?! Awhile back I decided he needed to have something that he considered a treat but was also healthy because I was feeling a little bit of mom guilt for letting him have a bite of my chocolate chip cookie every time I had one (in my defense, I’m pregnant so yes, I do have a cookie (or four) every day!). He loves these and has no idea that they are in the “healthy” world because let’s be honest, he doesn’t understand what healthy is except that he doesn’t like most veggies because they are green (we’re working on it).

The four ingredients in these are all pantry staples – oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, and a banana. Plus you have another recipe in your pocket for using up those browning bananas on your counter – this recipe is perfect because it only needs one banana which it seems is about all I can ever get to make it to the baking stage without getting eaten. Not complaining, just saying that my kid likes bananas so I get a little bit less banana bread making these days.

I hope you enjoy these quick and easy snacks for your kids or you! Please feel free to add any other goodies you like to them – chocolate chips, chia, flax seeds, M & M’s, etc. ♥

 

Print Recipe
Four Ingredient Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Toddler Cookies (Egg Free, Dairy Free, Added Sugar Free)
Quick, easy, and healthy cookie alternative for you kids or you! Throw in some chocolate chips and they will really think they hit the jackpot!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mash the banana until smooth.
  3. Stir in the oatmeal, peanut butter, and honey. Mix well.
  4. Spoon cookies the size of a Tbsp onto the cookie sheet. You can flatten them if you want them to look more like cookies - they won't change shape much at all while baking.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

You can add any of the above mentioned mix-ins to your cookies to change it up. I occasionally add 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips for more sweetness but they are just as good without.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week on the counter or in the refrigerator. These would freeze very well too.

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Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Hand Pies

Looking for a weeknight dessert? Or something to impress your better half? These hand pies (with shortcuts!) give you the indulgence and zest of a lemon-y cheesecake with the simplicity and mess-free nature of a hand pie. Give them a try – you won’t be disappointed ♥

Every year I struggle with a Valentine’s Day gift for my husband. We’ve never treated it as a “gift” holiday, but more of a thoughtful gesture day. My husband knows the way to my heart is chocolate, and I usually make something for him or get him his favorite beer – although now that he has beer on tap at work, that doesn’t feel very special anymore.

Since he loves pie, and I could do without it I decided to go the route of handheld pies for Valentine’s Day – that way he could enjoy it and I wouldn’t have half a pie left over to go to waste. These would freeze great too for a treat now and then. To be honest, they always look a little more “rustic” than I expect but I’ve learned to appreciate it because, really, look at them – you can see right into the luscious swirls of cheesecake and blueberry.

To simplify this recipe, I used store bought Pillsbury pie crust and canned pie filling. Sorry, not sorry, but I don’t feel like standing over a hot stove to make homemade pie filling when I’m 37 weeks pregnant. Maybe next time. Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments below ↓ or if you make them tag me on instagram @midwest.mash

Print Recipe
Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Hand Pies
A beautiful, rich dessert that goes beyond a typical hand pie by adding the lusciousness of lemon cheesecake
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
pies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
pies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl cream together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. It will be a little bit tough to work with at first but it is best if the cream cheese is cold to start.
  3. Lay out the pie crust (you will only need one of the two in the package) on a light dusting of flour. Roll out about 1" to make the dough easier to work with.
  4. Use a circle cookie cutter of ~6" diameter to cut the dough into circles.
  5. Put 1 tsp of the cream cheese mixture and 1 tsp of pie filling on each circle. Fold the circle in half over the filling and press the edges tightly closed. Then roll up the edges for an extra seal.
  6. Place pies on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Cut a small slit in the top of each pie.
  7. Scramble the egg in a bowl and then egg wash the top of each pie. Sprinkle each pie with a bit of sugar, and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Do not be alarmed if the tops start to crack.
Recipe Notes

Since you are only using one of the two pie crusts in the package, you could double the recipe for the cream cheese mixture to make 16 instead of 8 hand pies. Otherwise, save the crust and make a yummy pot pie!

These would also be good with cherry or strawberry pie filling if you don't love blueberry ♥

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One Pot Vegetarian Taco Mac & Cheese (30 Minute)

Happy Winter everyone! These cold, snowy days have me craving all the comfort foods (or maybe it’s the pregnancy!). That in combination with not wanting to stand over the stove for more than 30 minutes has really made me hone in on quick and simple recipes like this one. Only one pan to wash (win!), no meat to cook (win!), and it is loaded with cheese (major win!). Plus my 18 month old ate about half of it (sort of win!).

 

My due date is in 6 weeks which is very very surreal to me. I feel like in some ways I have been pregnant for 125 years, and other times I feel like there’s no way it is already winding down. I knew that my second pregnancy would be different than my first, but I wasn’t expecting all of the new emotions you feel with round two. I go from super excited to grow to a family of 4 to a little bit sad thinking that I won’t be able to give all my attention to Rory anymore. I know he will adjust, as all first children do, but is it weird that I feel guilty for making him share everything including his parents?! I’m sure once the baby is here all will be right with the world, and my funny thoughts about having this second child will subside but for now, I’m over here feeling like I’m a string of happy-sad-happy-sad-happy-crying-laughing emojis. Ugh, hormones man.

Anyway, please enjoy this hearty, lazy meal and don’t feel guilty for making your significant other wash the dishes! (one dish! – and maybe a cutting board)

Print Recipe
One Pot 30 Minute Taco Mac & Cheese
Everything gets thrown into one pot and is ready to serve 30 minutes later! Weeknight winner for sure.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole, Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole, Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mince onion and place in a large stock pot or dutch oven with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in 2 Tbsp of the taco seasoning and the green pepper. Saute for additional 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add in tomatoes, beans, broth, pasta, and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once pasta is done, add in the final 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning, 1 Tbsp chili powder, and the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and serve.
Recipe Notes

You can add chicken or ground beef to the first step if you would like additional protein.

Omit the chili powder if you are feeding sensitive palates (I dished some up for my son before I added the chili powder).

We like to top it with sour cream, but feel free to add any additional taco toppings you would like!

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Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)

I started making this side dish about 4 years ago, and it has been in weekly rotation at my house ever since. My favorite thing about this orzo is that it pretends to be a risotto (with pasta of course) but is wayyyy less maintenance. Also, my one year old loves it – WIN!

As a Mom, one of my biggest goals is to create those things that my kids will look back on one day and immediately think of me. As I type that, it sounds a little bit selfish, but I want my kids to have fond memories of their childhood. Many of those warm feelings for me come from food – my grandma’s cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies, my mom’s runzas and ham balls, my grandma’s love of strawberry shortcake and how I tried to make it one time and accidentally used way too much salt. It seems that it’s those recipes that never taste quite as good when you make them yourself. I’m still trying to find “those recipes” of my own, and I think in time they will come naturally. For now, this orzo is probably one of them for my husband as he literally asks me to make this every week.

So go on, give this a try tonight and reminisce about all of those recipes that bring you warm feelings in your family.

Print Recipe
Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)
Creamy (without the cream) pasta dish that everyone at your table will enjoy.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the garlic. Heat for 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the orzo and toast (stirring frequently) until some pieces just start to turn light brown.
  3. Pour in 2 cups of the chicken broth and let simmer down until almost completely absorbed. Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time until the orzo is done (you'll have to taste it). Add an additional 1/4 cup of broth and let it heat up.
  4. Stir in red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is incorporated (it should melt quickly) and the orzo is a creamy consistency.
  5. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

You made need more or less chicken broth depending on how quickly it absorbs.

Freshly grated parmesan works the best, but you can also use parmesan out of the jar (green Kraft container).

You can easily make this into a full meal by adding chicken and/or broccoli.

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Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cookies (Bakery Style)

What’s the best smell in the world? Cookies baking in your oven, of course! These bakery style cookies are buttery, soft on the inside, and have just the right amount of saltiness to keep your sweet tooth in check. If you’re so lucky to get a bite with butterscotch and chocolate, it tastes like the topping on scotcheroos – yes, these cookies are pretty much everything you want a cookie to be.

If you’re still in a turkey coma like I am, the last thing you want to do is think about food, but it’s only 4 1/2 weeks until Christmas! I’m sure you’re already procrastinating about gift buying and present wrapping (raising my hand very high), so check one thing off your list and make some cookies to freeze to gift later. I’ve tried many different cookie recipes over the years, and when I found this one I honestly stopped searching for others. I tweaked the original recipe a bit because 1) I like a little bit more salt in my cookies and 2) holiday cookies need a little bit more flair, thus the addition of butterscotch chips. Also, this recipe consistently makes 40-45 cookies! Yes, almost 4 dozen! Great neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, thank the mailman gifts, or cookie swap additions.

Print Recipe
Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cookies (Bakery Style)
Bakery style cookies that will melt in your mouth, and with a yield of almost 4 dozen there's plenty to go around
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12-15 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12-15 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With mixer, cream butter (at room temperature) with white and brown sugars until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla to butter mixture and mix for 1-2 minutes on low.
  5. Gradually mix flour mixture into butter/egg mixture until all is combined.
  6. Mix in chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
  7. Place tablespoon size balls of cookie dough (or use a standard cookie scoop) onto cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine are almost always done by 12-13 minutes) until just tan around the edges. The middle will be soft but that's okay. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack or counter.
Recipe Notes

If you like your cookies less salty, you can use unsalted butter.

Keep an eye on your cookies the last 2-3 minutes, you don't want them overdone!

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Easy Anytime Homemade Stuffing

I can’t believe it’s only a week before Thanksgiving. Is it just me or does time continually get faster as you get older, especially when you have kids ?! (Sorry for the sentimental blubbery and cliche statements). I’m feeling a little emotional these days and trying to savor these last few months with one kid – that’s right, I’m pregnant! Super exciting, super exhausting, super duper didn’t feel like cooking for about 4 months, which explains questions I have been getting about ‘Are you still writing your blog?’. Oops, yes! Just hard to keep up with a cooking blog when the only thing entering and staying in my stomach there for awhile was Ramen and watermelon popsicles.

Anyway….whether you are hosting, gathering elsewhere, or just having an intimate family meal with you and yours, this stuffing recipe is great to toss together as you will more than likely have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t know about you, but I used to be intimidated by making stuffing. I don’t know if it’s because there are so so SO many variations of it, and in all honesty sometimes it just doesn’t taste great for whatever reason, but I decided this year I was going to tackle it in a way that I wouldn’t mind re-creating any time of the year. (Also, I had a loaf of homemade white bread that desperately needed using before I had to sadly and guiltily toss it).

Served with pork chop with pan gravy and green beans

Give this a go on the big day, you won’t regret it. ♥

Print Recipe
Easy Anytime Homemade Stuffing
Simple stuffing made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Give it a try and wow your guests.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
FInal Touches
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
FInal Touches
Instructions
  1. Cut bread into 1" cubes and let dry out on a baking sheet overnight. If you didn't have time to do this the day before you can also place the baking sheet in a 250 degree oven until the bread starts to dry out (will vary depending on bread, check on it every 5-10 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook down for 10 minutes or until softened.
  4. Place dried bread cubes into a large bowl and pour melted butter with onions and celery over it. Stir together well.
  5. Add the sage, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and celery salt. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth over the bread mixture and mix together well.
  7. Whisk together the 2 eggs with 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth. Pour over the bread mixture and again mix well. It will start to get mushy at this point and that's okay! Continue to add additional chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time until all the bread is saturated.
  8. Place into a greased casserole dish. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover then cook for an additional 10 minutes to get a nice crisp on top.
  9. For the final touch, melt 3 Tbsp butter in the microwave. Stir in the additional 1/4 tsp of sage, thyme, and parsley. Drizzle over the top. Dig in!
Recipe Notes

The amount of chicken broth needed will vary between 2-3 cups depending on how long your bread was allowed to dry out and what type of bread you used. I used homemade white bread and I used more toward the 2 3/4 cup end, but if you use store bought sliced bread it won't take as much.

You can omit the final topping of butter if you're worried about calories 😉

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Pulled Pork Crescent Roll Ring (with BBQ + Ranch Dipping Sauce)

It’s May! And it’s rainy. I guess it doesn’t matter if May is “in like a lion”. The motto for May in Colorado is “I do what I want”. Snow, rain, hail, 90 degrees, we saw it all last year. I’m looking forward to having a garden and being somewhat self sufficient with produce (as soon as our backyard is no longer just dirt – the joys of new construction). I started tomatoes from seeds indoors but now they are looking so wimpy – any guru gardeners out there??

On another note, this post is all about using those leftovers. YES! Have you made my Crock Pot Pulled Pork recently and got sick and tired of sandwiches by day 4? (me! me!) Don’t worry, I’ve got your back! Costco recently got me again! They had Pillsbury crescent rolls on sale for < $1 a tube (steal!) but did I really need 40 crescent rolls? Sigh. Probably not. It gave me the perfect excuse to continue experimenting with this recipe until I got it just right though. Five ingredients and 20 minutes will get you a fun dinner on the table. Kids will love it because it looks cool and your husband/wife/SO will appreciate it because it looks like you put effort into dinner (shh don’t tell). Have at it!


Print Recipe
Pulled Pork Crescent Roll Ring (with BBQ + Ranch Dipping Sauce)
Reinvent pulled pork with this fun and easy weeknight dinner. Have it on the table in < 30 minutes!
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees for dark or nonstick pans).
  2. Open crescent rolls and place in a circle with overlapping corners (should look like a sun when you are done).
  3. Spread the cheese around the base of the crescent rolls in an even circle.
  4. Then add the pulled pork the same way (no need to heat the pork up first).
  5. Then sprinkle onions over the pork followed by one slice of jalapeno at the center of each triangle base.
  6. Fold the point of each triangle over the base and attach it to the base of the triangle next to it. It will look like a pinwheel when you are done.
  7. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until crescent rolls just start to turn golden brown. I baked mine on parchment paper to save with clean up.
  8. To make the dipping sauce: equal parts BBQ sauce mixed with equal parts ranch dressing! That's it! Cut into slices, dip, and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Get the recipe for Crock Pot Pulled Pork here.

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Easy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Happy Spring! Let’s take a moment to forget about the < 40 degree weather and the snow that fell this morning. I’m going to look at pictures of gardens, flowers, and baby animals on Pinterest to remain in denial about the current lack of Spring outside. Are you with me? Mmmmkay.

I recently came across an interesting Instagram post about how people really just want the recipes and don’t care about your recent trip to the mountains or how your baby did the cutest thing the other day when they go to your blog page. I don’t entirely agree with that but I can see both sides. I feel like half of my readers are people who I have known forever who genuinely are interested in what is going on in my life, especially since we moved. The other half probably does just want the recipe because they came across the post on Instagram or Pinterest. That being said, I’ve decided to write recipe posts and life posts separately on bigger topics. I am still going to include personal tidbits with my recipes because that is the whole concept of my blog.  (If you would like to read my first life post – tips for traveling without your infant click on Oh Baby in the menu above or go here)

This is hands down my favorite banana bread recipe because 1- it’s easy and 2 – I have tweaked it hundreds of times and it comes out great every time. I can’t not make it with chocolate chips so if you’re not into that, sorry not sorry. I make this at least once a month and I will continue to do so because I. LOVE. IT. and I like to pretend it’s a lil’ bit healthy (notice the giant slab of butter).


Print Recipe
Easy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Have an hour to spare? Whip together this banana bread! It smells so good you'll want to trade in your candles for this bread every day.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Bread
Cook Time 50-60 minutes
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Bread
Cook Time 50-60 minutes
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Smash bananas in a large bowl (I use a fork). Add melted butter and stir.
  3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Add in the beaten egg followed by the sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Finally, stir in the flour.
  5. Pour your batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on TOP and use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate chips into the top 1/4 of the batter. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT so the chips don't sink and stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a butter knife comes out mostly clean. Note: a glass pan will need a few minutes longer than a metal pan.
  7. Let cool in the pan. Or eat warm with some melted butter mmmmm.
Recipe Notes

Halfway through cooling I transfer the bread to a piece of wax paper and let it cool on its side so it doesn't sink too much.

Enjoy!

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Traveling Without Your Infant

My husband and I recently took our first trip without our baby. As nerve-wracking as it was, I didn’t feel quite as anxious as I thought I might, and I attribute that to being (overly) prepared. I might have overdone the lists and instructions for my parents, but I think it ultimately helped to ease my mind more than it assisted them while we were away. I’ve had a few people ask me for some tips for traveling without the babe, so I thought I would share.

My son was 8 months old when we traveled so he’s at the point where he’s eating 3 meals a day but also relies on breastmilk 5-6 times a day. Unfortunately he’s not fully sleeping through the night by my definition (another post for another day) but he is by the “official” definition (i.e. he sleeps for 8-9 hours in a stretch, gets up wanting to nurse, and then goes back to sleep for 2-3 hours). I feel like the sleeping part was what gave me the most anxiety. I am used to getting up with him at 3 or 4 AM but I didn’t want to burden my parents with that (if you’re reading this GramTam – I know you didn’t mind at all, but still).

Another aspect of the trip was trying to pump and keep my milk supply up while we were in the airport, out all day, at baseball games, etc. This part was actually very comical throughout the whole trip. I honestly hadn’t pumped in a few months prior to the trip because my milk supply had leveled off to the point where I was only making what R needed during the day and no more. Thankfully, I had a good supply in the freezer from the early months so he had plenty while I was gone. (Note to self: pump more during months 1-4 next time). Since we only took a carry-on and I wasn’t traveling with the kiddo, I had to dump my milk during the trip – wah wah wah – I hate doing that especially when I have had so many struggles with milk supply throughout the past nine months.

Here’s the breakdown of the lists I made for my parents (sorry, I didn’t think about taking pictures):

  • Medical:
    • Pediatrician – name, phone number, address, emergency number
    • Closest Urgent Care and Emergency Room – address, phone number, hotline number
    • Copy of R’s insurance card
    • Signed statement from Nick and myself giving permission for R to be treated if medically necessary
  • Schedule:
    • Sleeping – including naps and bedtime tentative times to put him down
      • pointers to get him to settle down as well as our bedtime routine (bath, lotion, jammies, nurse, books, bed)
    • Meals – tentative times as well as what he eats and how much (I actually set out and labeled all the food for each meal)
    • Bath – mainly just locating everything
  • Medicine:
    • Tylenol – how much
  • Other:
    • Meal ideas for my parents – I prepared 1-2 meals for them in advance, but I also left them with a list of local food places
    • Garage code

Pump N’ Dump:

Ugh, this was way different that I anticipated when we left. I decided to just take a hand pump (used a Medela one located here) because we only took a carry on bag. I don’t regret this because it was easy and I could stick it in my purse while we were out and about – you should have seen the look on the security guard’s face when he searched my purse as we were going into the game. I would’ve given anything to read his mind right at that moment!

I tried to pump at least every 3-4 hours to keep on R’s schedule, but it was tough. I pumped in bathroom stalls multiple times including once in the hotel lobby bathroom because our hotel room wasn’t ready yet – it really was a moment where I just had to laugh it off. I was in the 2 stall bathroom and another woman came into the other stall right after I started pumping. I was trying to pump quietly because I guess I was a little bit self-conscious but we ultimately ended up playing the “wait it out” game with each other – you all know what I’m talking about. Eventually I just stopped pumping because it had literally been 10 minutes of both of us sitting there, turned around and dumped the milk in the toilet. Only after I did that did I realize that she could for sure see my feet and probably noticed that they were facing the toilet while 6 ounces of liquid splashed in – I can’t even imagine what she was thinking. But hey, this isn’t the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me since having a baby.

I will admit it was nice to have a drink without worrying about having to feed R. Not going to lie though, I had to pump the brakes after 1.5 beers because I’m apparently a light weight these days!

I hope these starter tips help any of you who are getting ready to take your first trip away! It is very scary leaving your babe for the first time, but a little preparation goes a long way. I found myself not once worrying about – “oh I hope I told them about ____ ” because I knew I had covered most of my bases and because they are his grandparents and have obviously raised kids before. Don’t sweat it and don’t feel guilty about taking time for you and your spouse – you need it! Your family is only as strong as the relationship that started it so take time to nurture your marriage.

This entry was posted in Oh Baby.