My NYC Shopping Guide

There’s nothing quite like a warm summer day spent roaming around the streets of Manhattan. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I try to make the trip to NYC about once a year, but this year was very different for us, considering we now had a one year old in tow! This meant we avoided subways (aka crowds, germs, stairs, stress) and explored the city by foot, which was surprisingly enjoyable! We stumbled upon shops & neighborhoods that we otherwise wouldn’t have found ourselves in, and I tried to make a note of which ones really caught my fancy! This isn’t an extensive guide, but it’s enough to get you started on a really great path around the city. For reference, we stayed in the Flatiron District at the Ace Hotel (a personal favorite) and started most of our days by walking south on Broadway or 5th. Let’s jump right into it!

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Flying With Baby : 10 Essential Tips

Hello friends!

Today we are getting on our 10th flight with our 10 month old… and I can hardly believe we’ve worked up the courage to fly that many times with our baby girl! As I was packing up our luggage at 11:00pm last night, I realized, I had hardly any anxiety over the upcoming trip. In fact, I was so relaxed that I spent the majority of the night leisurely painting and Perry was like… “What are you doing?! We leave tomorrow!” This is a big deal, because preparing for Ella’s first couple of trips, it was a completely different story. I was usually stressed out of my mind!

Over that last couple of months, I’ve learned a handful of tips and tricks to help make flying with a newborn relatively manageable (knock on wood). But the truth is, sometimes no matter how much you prepare, sometimes traveling with a baby can be flat out difficult! We have had our fair share of embarrassing airplane meltdowns that have made me want to crawl into a hole. In those moments it’s important to remember, if you’re trying your best, thats all you can do! I’m hoping that by sharing a few of our experiences, I can save you some major headaches and help you actually enjoy the vacation you worked so hard to prepare for. So... let’s jump right into it!

  1. Booking Flights

If you are traveling with your partner, I would recommend booking a window seat alongside a middle seat. This way you can create your own little nook by the window and maintain a level of comfortability when you are breastfeeding or changing baby. Bonus points if you have an extra seat in your row! This has happened to us on two or three of our flights with Ella and the extra space feels like a luxury!

2. Packing

I used to spend hours sifting through piles of baby clothes, running all over my house looking for loose items, feeling panicked, wondering if I was missing something important for Ella. Ugh… this is the worst! What used to take me about three hours of preparation now takes me under an hour thanks to the packing list I have developed over the last couple of months. Now I can have peace-of-mind knowing that we are fully prepared for not only the flight but the x amount of days we will be gone. If you would like access to the packing list I have made, enter your email below for a free download! It also includes a few more tips regarding my method of packing. Hopefully this will be a huge resource for you!

3. Arriving at the Airport

To minimize any additional stressors, I’d recommend checking into your flight 24 hours prior to take-off from your phone. This way, you will also have your boarding passes available in your airline's app and won’t have to worry about keeping track of your printed tickets.

The decision of which bags to check and which bags to carry-on varies depending on where we are going, how long we will be gone, and what airline we are flying. We typically will check Perry and I’s luggage, Ella’s bassinet (we use a Guava), but carry-on Ella’s suitcase so there is no risk of her essentials getting lost. Once we drop off our luggage, this is what each of us will carry on the way to our Delta gate:

Perry:

-Ella’s Rolling Suitcase (counted as dad’s overhead carry-on).

-Perry’s Laptop Backpack (counted as dad’s “personal item”, stowed under the seat).

Mariah:

  • Ella’s Diaper Bag Backpack (counted as mom’s overhead carry-on)

  • Ella’s Snack / Toy Bag (counted as mom’s “personal item”, stowed under the seat)

Gate Check Items:

  • Ella’s stroller (in a protective case)

  • Ella’s car seat / car seat base (in a protective case)

Once you arrive at the security checkpoint, TSA will ask you to carry your baby through the detectors while they pull the stroller aside and check it by hand. Once I get through the screening, I know that Ella’s diaper bag is going to get flagged by the agents because of the liquids inside. I am typically the one that goes up to security to claim the bag with Ella, and this is actually an intentional trick we have learned. One time, I took Ella out of security with me as soon as we got through, and left Perry to claim the diaper bag by himself. The TSA agents did not appreciate this. They made Perry point out where his wife and baby were to prove it was his bag… but I wasn’t in sight! It was an unnecessary headache to say the least. Save yourself a few minutes and claim your diaper bag with your baby present. LOL!

4. Getting Settled On The Plane

Once you get to your gate, you can relax for a second. Most airlines allow parents with small children to board the aircraft first in order to get settled in. This is seriously so helpful! Just make sure you get to your gate at least 20 minutes before the typical boarding time. Once we arrive at the gate, Perry will go up to the counter to get official “Gate Check” tags for the stroller & carseat while I entertain Ella and watch our bags. You can bring your Gate Checked items right up to the airplane entrance and leave them in the designated area. After that you can take your time finding your seat and stowing your bags. We used to act so panicked during this time, thinking a rush of people would quickly be following us, but thankfully this isn’t the case! You should have more than enough time to get situated before the general zone’s start boarding.

5. Take Off

Once the plane makes its way down the runway and is ready for take-off, we’ll pop a big, warm bottle into Ella’s mouth. Not only does this help soothe her during the commotion, but swallowing help their ears adjust to the climbing altitude. You know how adults like to chew gum to help make their ears pop on a plane? This is the same kind of idea. The last thing you want to deal with is a screaming baby who can’t figure out how to release the pressure inside their ears. Thankfully this hasn’t happened to us yet. Once she finishes her bottle, I’ll stick a pacifier in her mouth to try to keep her sucking until we reach a cruising altitude.

6. In-Flight Activities

Ella isn’t at an age where she interested in watching TV yet, so we bring lots of toys to keep her occupied throughout the flight. Everything from rubber toys that she can chew on, animals that we can show her, books, squeaking objects, balls, even her spoons. We just keep pulling out a new toy every 5-10 minutes or so to keep her interested. If she gets squirmy from sitting in my lap, I’ll have Perry grab her and then she suddenly calms down again. This back and forth works really well for us!

7. Dealing With Fussiness

It’s bound to happen at some point… your baby starts getting fussy and your worried it’s about to turn into a full on scream. Don’t panic, there are so many things you can do to help calm them down! First, check for a dirty diaper. When they are small enough, it’s easy enough to change them in your lap. But on our recent trip to Hawaii, we had to start bringing her to the airplane bathroom for diaper changes. I didn’t even realize airplanes have changing tables, but according to my husband, you have to pull them down from the wall. I’d recommend bringing a changing pad that has pockets for diapers and wipes so you don’t have to carry each item on it’s own. I have yet to change Ella myself in one of these bathrooms because Perry typically has the middle seat and volunteers to take her. He’s the best!

Also, don’t be caught dead without enough diapers to make it through your journey. I remember when Ella was 6 weeks old, I ran out of diapers during our layover. I scoped out the terminal to find a mom who had a baby the same age and I was awkwardly going to ask her if she had one to spare. Ahhh! Thankfully Perry rushed in to save the day with a generic package of Pampers he had found at one of the kiosks. From that moment on I decided I would always grab an excess of diapers. Hahaha.

If baby still is fussy, there are a few more things I would try to help them calm down:

  • Give them a favorite snack

  • Offer a teething toy if baby is teething. Maybe even teething tablets to help soothe any sore gums.

  • Gas drops or Gripe Water for an upset tummy.

  • Create a space between you and your spouse by lifting up the armrest and laying down a blanket. Lay baby down on their back with their favorite toy. This almost always works for our independent baby!

8. Nap time

There’s a good chance your baby is going to be pretty tired after all the stimulation that’s gone on over the last few hours. We let Ella nap in our arms on the plane and put her to sleep with a warm blanket, pacifier, sound machine and bottle if needed. Once baby is asleep, you might actually get a chance to watch your own movie! :)

9. Dealing With Layovers

If you happen to have a layover on the way to your destination, count this as a blessing is disguise. I’ll use this opportunity to put a blanket on the ground at our next gate and let Ella sit, stretch and roll independently. Once she gets tired of that, I’ll pick her up and walk her around the terminal. She loves looking inside the stores and people watching, so this is another great way to wear her out before the next flight. Ideally you have packed all of your babies essentials in case there is any delay. During our last layover, we had a 10 hour delay and I was so grateful we had her luggage!

10. Preparing For Landing

Just like take off, we always give Ella a bottle during the descent! Once the air plane hits the ground, we start packing up bags and organizing our possessions. If I’m holding Ella, Perry will usually do this. Once the plane de-boarding, anything you checked at the Gate will be available to you right when you step off the plane. We immediately pull out Ella’s stroller, pop her in, and then we’re off!

I hope that some of these tips will be a resource for you as you plan any upcoming trips with an infant in arms. The biggest thing to remember, is that no matter what happens, the plane will eventually land and you’ll never see those passengers again… lol! If you have any further suggestions that have helped you and your family out while traveling with a baby, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.


You may also be interested in: Essential Baby Products for Colds & Fevers.

Ella's Modern & Minimal Toys

In this blog post, I’ll be featuring a few tried-and-true baby products that Ella has grown to love over the past few months. Like most moms, I look for baby products that are easily accessible and affordable… which means I do most of my shopping online through Amazon! Below I’ve listen a few affiliate links for products that I bought for Ella that I would absolutely recommend to my friends and family. I’m not sponsored by any of these brands (I wish!), but I do want to share them with fellow mammas our there who are on the hunt for quality baby products.

Let’s dive into it!

Melissa & Doug Giraffe Wooden Grasping Toy

Around 6 months of age, Ella became interested in the way certain objects could bend back and forth. I wanted to find a toy for her that was flexible but safe to go in her mouth (hello teething!). This meant I couldn’t have any small parts breaking off and becoming a choking hazard. Thus, I was so excited when I came across this Melissa and Doug Giraffe!

The giraffe is made up of interlocking pieces of wood, that can bend back and forth with a flexible connection. A strong, black elastic band is threaded through the giraffes body and pops out of the giraffes bum to form a little tail. Ella loves playing with that tail!

The neck is nice and long for babies who are learning to grasp onto objects. I’ll put this in front of Ella with the giraffe on all fours so she can practice knocking it down. The wood is nice and light-weight, which means this isn’t very destructive when it hits your floor. It’s perfect for throwing in the diaper bag before we head out the door. I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for a baby toy that is simple and engaging for baby!

wooden baby toy melissa and doug giraffe
wooden baby toy melissa and doug giraffe

Uncle Goose Uppercase Alphablank Blocks

You can’t go wrong with a collection of toy blocks.. right? Wrong!

Many of the blocks I was coming across had loud, cheesy baby designs that I didn’t want scattered all over my house. I wanted to find Ella some blocks that were minimalistic but still engaging for her. I’ve always loved Grimm’s Set of Wooden Blocks but I could never justify spending $150 on a set of toys that, let’s face it, will eventually get colored on, spit on, and sat on. No way! I needed to find something that was affordable yet beautiful. These certainly fit the bill.

Uncle Goose sources their wood from tree’s in Michigan and carves each design right here in the U.S.A. You can also choose to paint them any color that you wish or leave them unstained like we have. Once Ella starts learning about the alphabet, these blocks will be a perfect tool to teach her about all about vowels, sounds, and spelling. I know these blocks are going to get used around our house for years to come!

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Manhattan Toy Skwish Rattle and Teether Grasping Activity Toy

You may have seen these aesthetically pleasing rattles floating around Instagram lately, and that’s because babies go absolutely bonkers for them. Sometimes I have to pull this one away from Ella because she’ll get so excited she starts whipping it around in the air like a crazy person. It’s pretty cute though. Which is why we’ve accumulated a collection of these that are situated around our house. Let’s jump into the details!

When I first saw these rattles online, I thought they were entirely made out of wood. But there’s actually a strong elastic band threaded throughout the entire toy that makes this rattle flexible for your little one. I also didn’t realize that some of the wooden knobs are loosely wrapped around the wooden shafts, which means your baby can tilt this back and forth and watch as the beads glide across the toy in complete awe. Ella also loves chewing on the wooden knobs that are fixated around the perimeter of the toy. You can’t really find a toy that is easier to grasp than this one is! They can grab onto the beads, the elastic or the wooden shafts easily and rotate it around, almost like a ball.

This toy makes just enough noise to keep your baby interested, but not enough to drive you crazy as a parent. A total win!

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Skip Hop Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center

This product from Skip Hop is Ella’s most used baby product at the moment, and there are a million good things I could say about it.

Let’s start with the design. It’s modern, it’s minimal and it’s light weight. It comes in two color profiles, one that is Pastel (pictured below) and another that is Primary (see here).

This activity center set’s itself apart from competitors because it’s not only an activity center, but it converts itself into an activity table once your child is old enough to sit in a chair unassisted. This means I won’t have to spend money on a child-sized table once Ella grows out of the activity center. You can actually purchase a matching set of stools for the table if you wish to have a set that is cohesive. I haven’t bought those yet but I definitely will once she’s big enough!

Ella honestly spends hours in this activity center throughout the week. It’s the perfect spot for me to put her down when I need to make myself a cup of coffee or fold the laundry. I love putting her in this because I don’t have to worry about her crawling away while I’m not looking. And she loves all the toys that came with it! They rattle, spin, squeak and bounce. She’s great at entertaining herself in this thing.

My favorite part of this activity gym is how easy it is to clean. She’s had her fair share of spit-up’s down the seat and I can easily remove the fabric cover and throw in in the wash. All the toys around the perimeter also detach so you can thoroughly wipe the surface without having to work around the toys.

Without a doubt, this is the baby product I get asked the most about on my Instagram account. It has a unique, almost spaceship looking design to this that always peaks the interest of anyone that see’s it! And when I tell people that it converts into a table they just lose their minds! Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But still. Everyone seems to think this thing is pretty cool.

It’s stood up to a lot of abuse from Ella over the last five months and hasn’t been damaged a single bit. This thing is durable.

While it may be a higher ticketed item, I wanted to include it on this list because of its versatility. When you factor in the cost of buying an activity table for your child in the future, this things is actually a steal for what it’s capable of. I’m so glad we made this purchase!

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If you enjoyed the nature of this blog post and would like to see more like it in the future, please comment below or give this post a little “like” by hitting the heart below.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions regarding the products I’ve mentioned above, either via email at mariah.mpls@gmail.com or you can always direct message me on my Instagram account.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sincerely, Mariah