What sounds better than a weekend away from work and other worldly worries, spent together with your wife (or significant other/partner) and some of your closest compatriots as you beach and bar hop in a sleepy coastal town? Not much, of course–-but just one wrinkle: you’ve decided (or, rather, had to) bring along your newborn and have no experience taking trips with the little one. What to do?
One thing not to do is wing it. If you’ve learned one thing in life, it’s probably not to bring a knife to a gunfight. Said a different way: Be prepared. What does this mean? It means:
1. Get coverage: You will not be hip or cool bringing your newborn to a sports bar with a live band at 11:00pm at night (esp. when you plan on downing something in the vicinity of a couple to 10 vodka sodas). Bring in a relative or a friend who is willing to take one for the team and sit in for the night and/or an afternoon and act as designated driver (thanks Mom!). If you are talking about a family-friendly restaurant with a quasi-bar setting at 3:00 pm, well perhaps that is a different story! Make sure to make it up to your “coverage” person by taking them to dinner the next day, or paying it forward some other way.
2. Be equipped: Know your venue.
Beach Gear: If you are bringing your baby to the beach, consider getting a beach umbrella and an infant swimming pool. (We were caught thoroughly unawares when we showed up to the beach with a baby in a matching Two Piece Swimsuit, but had no protection from the sun on a hot day). And be aware that sunscreen is generally not advised for infants under 6 months old. Note that certain diaper companies also have special diapers that purport to act as swim trunks or your little ones, though these too are generally only available for infants in the 16 lb+ range.
Travel Items: Consider getting a diaper bag to transport various and also note that retailers carry travel-size versions of baby dish soap as well as travel-friendly bottle caddies.
3. Transportation: In our particular situation, we had what we thought was a 2 hour drive ahead of us but, due to a freak highway fire mixed with the summer Friday early-afternoon, pre-weekend exodus from the city, it took closer to 4 hours (which, coincidentally, is approx. 1 feeding cycle for our baby). We hadn’t planned any stops nor had either of us sat next to our baby to administer food (and affection, where needed), so the first half of the trip was fraught with anxiety and we had to make one unplanned stop. So, bottom line? If you are travelling any appreciable distance with your newborn, plan stops and/or plan on you or your significant other spending time next to your child.
4. Toys: Fortunately, our 5 month only doesn’t require much other than her hand and our “baby dancing” routine to keep her entertained (baby dancing includes lifting infant under arms and supporting head as necessary, while bobbing up and down in standing position as you hum the bassline to one of your favorite songs). That said, we had packed for our infant a tried-and-true Munchkin Twisty Teether and rattle. If we had the foresight, we would have packed her Fisher-Price Go Baby Go Snail–arguably her favorite toy.
5. A fun vacation destination: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should pick a vacation destination that is both easily-accessible and somewhat family (or infant) friendly. In other words, leave Atlantic City for another time. For young couples with infants or children (really, singles too) we recommend the North Fork of Long Island, which is not only replete with over 30 wineries (some of them kid-friendly), but also a bevy of fall harvest-season activities (e.g., Hayrides; pumpkin picking) and is home to scenic Greenport. Also, not too far away is Riverhead, which features outlet shopping at Tanger outlets and is home to a Splish Splash, 96-acre waterpark that may prove an interesting option for families with older children.
With these pointers, we hope you enjoy your first quasi-getaway (with baby) and show up more than prepared to have a good time!