Fun Easter Party Ideas for kids and adults too

Aurora is about to have her first Easter and I am going to throw her a little party. Yes, I understand that a 10 month old will not have a lot (or any!) memories of her first Easter. However, that doesn’t mean she won’t enjoy it! I love hosting get togethers so my goal is to make this fun for everyone, big and little!

Our little Rory meeting the Easter Bunny at 9.5 months


Set Up & Decor

We’ve chosen to host this in a nearby park, since the weather usually cooperates in Southern California. Of course, this would work in your yard or indoors as well.

Photo from Frankixo.com

For set up, we are going to keep it pretty minimal and rely on the great outdoors for most of the ambiance. However, there are a few necessary items to make this party a success.

  • Folding Table
    • This is necessary for all the food, Easter baskets, plates and to keep other items away from little hands.
  • Table Cloth
    • I purchased this Gingham one on Amazon
  • Blankets (for babies to hang out in on the grass)
  • Paper plates, napkins and cups
  • Easter bunny ears!
  • Fresh Flowers in Mason Jars
  • Balloons
  • Cooler

Easter Party Food

I wanted to keep it to light finger foods for adults and some fun snacks for the little ones too.  

  • Deviled Eggs
    • Delicious and thematic, deviled eggs are also healthy and tasty for little ones on solids.
    • I chose to follow this recipe here, but leaving out the tabasco.
  • Bunny Fruit Dish
    • Take advantage of the holiday and set up your fruit in a cute way!
From smartschoolhouse.com
  • Biscuits
    • Easy to make and a crowd pleaser. Add cheese for a savory twist or serve with butter and jam.
  • Beverages for adults AND kids!
    • Rosé, chilled beer and sparkling waters are on our list. Remember to add flavored sparkling waters which are a crowdpleaser for all!
  • Easter Basket Cupcakes
    • I love how easy and delicious these look!

Things to Do

To keep the little ones entertained, here are some fun things that you can do.

Easter Baskets

Give out Easter Baskets for the kids! Fill them with age appropriate toys and snacks. Avoid the candy or limit that for the adults.

  • Baskets
    • I love the heart details and they come with grass!
  • Carrot Teethers
  • Bibs
  • Snack Pouches
    • Go for my go-to brand, Once upon a Farm or to stay on theme, Peter Rabbit Organics
  • Egg shakers
    • Musical and on theme! These are sweet and inexpensive.

Have an Easter Egg Hunt

  • This is fun for all ages. You can modify the difficulty based on ages. Since ours are little, we will be basically just setting the eggs out on the grass for the little ones to play with!

Blow Bubbles

  • A timeless pastime that all ages can enjoy.

Music

  • Bring some toys and instruments for littles to use on the blanket.

Invite the Easter Bunny!

  • If you want to go for it, ask a friend (or a fellow parent) to don an Easter Bunny costume and surprise the kids. That will be sure to make a lot of kids smile and have some amazing photos!

Unique Baby Brands that I Love

I kept a short list of my favorite baby brands in a notes document on my phone. I decided it was time to make this into a blog post and share some of my faves with you all.

Coco Moon Hawaii

A brand with a real sense of identity, Coco Moon Hawaii is a truly Hawaiian company. I fell in love with it when I stumbled upon the softest swaddle I had ever felt while on my babymoon in Kauai. Back on the mainland, I researched and found that Coco Moon’s prints are created by Hawaiian artists and their bamboo material is buttery soft.

In addition to their swaddles, I am a big fan of their sheets and bath towels.

 

Wild Wawa

Photo by @justyolive

Neutral tones and sweet motifs like rainbows–wild wawa is a far cry from a lot of the super bright kid brands out there. There’s something really wholesome about their style that makes me want to be a kid again to wear these adorable clothes.

 

 

Oeuf

I can’t get enough Oeuf. All their products are very cute and unique–and eco friendly to boot. The clothing is made by a group of female knitters in Peru and Bolivia and all their furniture is designed in Europe (so you’ll use them for a long time!). This brand tends to be pricey so I feel like I shop here for more of a statement piece rather than the run-of-the-mill, everyday stuff. However, as you can see from things like this bunny hoodie, their products are worth it.

 

Cheeky Chickadee

This Australian company has some of the cutest animal prints around. The sizes are a bit tough (out of about 5 things, 2 didn’t fit well because of narrow cuts) but I loved the other pieces so much it was worth it.

 

Egg Baby

My favorite long sleeve zipper pajamas for Rory come from Egg and I don’t know how, but she’s been able to wear them for so long! They stretch well, are easy to get on and super adorable. Egg’s fun prints and high quality mean that I will probably be buying from here for Aurora well into her older years.

 

Monica & Andy

Aurora on the left in Monica and Andy

I’m a sucker for clever prints and I fell head over heels for all the beachy prints that they used to have (seashells, mermaids). However, the prints are only for a limited time so follow their IG to see the new ones. I have to say, the new tulips and pretzels are pretty cute too.

 

Angel Dear

Angel Dear pjs

 

WOW SOFT! Angel Dear is my go-to for Aurora’s beloved lovees (we have the monkeys). But did you know that they made clothing? And their clothing is so cute and soft? I was gifted some and now love putting her in them. I can tell she likes how soft they are!

 

Hanna Andersson

More well known but this brand is high quality. The prints aren’t for everyone and I only like some (especially the stripes) but I’ll keep this brand in the mix because of their comfy fits and great sweatsuits.

 

Zara Baby

A bit more mainstream, Zara actually has amazing clothes for kids. Very stylish, good price point and easy fits make this a good every day staple. Like they do with their adult lines, they are very much about the ‘trend of the minute’ but a much more affordable way to get your little one in that cute animal print but not break the bank on it.

 

Spearmint Love

From Spearmint Love Instagram: @victoriamcfall

This store carries a lot of my favorites brands and has been a great way for me to discover new ones. Plus the site is designed really well. With Easter coming up, I am all about their Easter shop.

 

Maisonette

Like Spearmint Love, this is another one stop shop that has a well curated bevy of clothing and gear brands for kids. I love their Toys section as it is a great list.

 

Pacapod

I carry my diaper bag every day and now usually don’t even have an extra bag for my things. These beautiful bags from the British Pacapod are so functional yet stylish. I love how they don’t scream “mom” when you wear them out. The idea behind the included “pods” is too keep everything organized, which is so helpful when this bag carries everything from socks to sunscreen, diapers to snacks. Mine is the Fortuna, one of the Luxury bags, complete with the map pods that I am OBSESSED with–link to it here.

 

Do you have any other favorite brands that I didn’t mention? Please share! 

Some featured brands are sponsors, however I strongly stand behind all my recommendations!

Babymoon Destinations for Every Type

The Tropical Babymoon: Hawaii

When I was toting a beach ball around my midline, all I wanted to do was relax in the sun, eating delicious foods, and dangling my toes in the warm ocean. Hawaii was the obvious choice for me. I spent a week on Kauai and this isle’s feminine energy and super laid back vibes helped me let go of my anxieties in this transitional phase of life.

Hanalei Beach Bump

I indulged in açai bowls daily, enjoyed pineapple smoothies in lieu of piña coladas by the pool and had fun exploring the North, South and in between of this ruggedly natural place.

Also, there’s nothing better than floating in the pristine waters when you are pregnant. You feel weightless!

Hotel Recommendation: Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort in Poipu

 

The Snowy Babymoon: Tahoe

Though most winter activities were off limits, I had an amazing time in Tahoe while pregnant. By taking skiing, sledding and skating off the itinerary, we had more time to really explore, relax and hang out. Northstar was idyllic because the village is so walkable, has cute stores (even a kids store!) and great eats. Plus the gondola goes right into town so I felt like I was on the slopes!

 

We cozied up on the cabins, made s’mores at the outdoor firepits of the Ritz Carlton Tahoe and we even did a yoga class. If you plan to go, I’d suggest trying to make a Mountain Table Dinner held on the summit at the Zephyr Lodge.

Hotel Recommendation: Northstar Lodging

 

The Good Eatin’ Babymoon: Austin

Austin is a central hub for hip hotels, cool neighborhoods and amazing food. Come here hungry because you might be trying to squeeze in a few extra meals. The atmosphere is friendly, the shopping is unique and the food is much more than just barbecue (though that is great too!).

Check out Torchy’s, Cafe No Se and Joann’s.

Hotel Recommendation: South Congress Hotel 

 

The Historic Babymoon: Martha’s Vineyard

For those on the East Coast, Martha’s Vineyard is a drive and a quick ferry ride, though this historical island feels like a world away. With several towns, Edgartown being my favorite, there’s a lot to do here but it’s also okay to do nothing at all. Take a drive, go for a stroll or watch the boats come into harbor–these are all acceptable day activities.

Edgartown is my absolute favorite. Its walkability, lighthouse views, shops and cafés and overall charm is captivating. Life on Martha’s Vineyard moves at a slower pace but with a lot of appreciation for the little things. On a babymoon, you might appreciate the calm, happy ease of MV.

Hotel Recommendations: The Harbor View Hotel and The Kelley House

 

The Euro Babymoon: Rome

Definitely a longer haul, a babymoon to Italy might be daunting. If you are earlier in your pregnancy or have a bit of energy, then I highly recommend it. I went at 22 weeks and felt great. There was lots of walking but always balanced by delicious food waiting at the end of each stroll. Definitely book a hotel central to the sites that you are most interested in so you never have to go too far. We didn’t take one taxi while there because we were in the heart of everything!

Rome The Roman Forum

Each day we just picked a neighborhood and just walked around, stopping for gelato, to shop or dine. I’d recommend not trying to pack in too much sightseeing and rather just enjoy the city. If you want to see some of the major sites, pick 1 per day so you don’t overwhelm yourself. We saw the Colosseum and Vatican with LivItaly Tours which helped us make the most of our time.

Hotel Recommendation: The First Roma Arte

 

Easiest Babymoon: Mediterranean

From the moment you step onboard, you don’t have to worry about your bags, your credit card or you daily itinerary. This type of stress-free holiday is just what the OBGYN ordered. The food onboard Viking Ocean Cruises is delicious, fresh and changes daily. I loved the main dining room, but the speciality restaurants were really what set it apart.

However, you will probably eating off the boat on whatever European itinerary you choose. Our “Iconic Mediterranean” itinerary took us through Barcelona, France, Monaco and Italy–so its safe to say that we ate well. For the times that you are on the boat, there’s a putting green, infinity pool, lounge areas, and a fabulous nordic spa.

The rooms are well appointed and the bed is oh-so-comfortable. Order breakfast to the room for the ultimate morning treat on your balcony.

Recommended Cruise line: Viking Ocean Cruises

Baby Solids: 6 to 9 Months Baby Food Guide

For a list of all the foods that we usually give, check out my Typical Foods for 6-9months old guide.

For more information on my favorite store-bought food, check out my Easier than Homemade post

See my review of Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

 

Meals per Day

From 6-7.5 months, we were doing breakfast and dinner, with maybe a Once Upon a Farm pouch midday. At around 8 months, we added in a more substantial lunch in addition to substantial breakfast and dinners.

Typical Meals

I generally think about the day as a whole and make sure that she in general is getting vegetables, protein, fats, fruits and an allergen or two in (dairy, nuts or eggs). I didn’t include many whole grains besides those in her jars (quinoa) until closer to 9 months.

 

Breakfast

A typical breakfast would be yogurt with smashed fruit, blueberries cut in half, slices of mango, avocado smashed up and a Yumi jar. Often I give her the handheld pieces (like mango or pear) first because it buys me time to prepare her full breakfast plate!

She also love eggs, so occasionally, I mix an egg and cook it like an omelette then cut it into strips for her. Using coconut oil helps to give these more fat and flavor.

Lunch

Ideally, I’d do a fat (one that I didn’t do for breakfast) such as avocado or peanut butter mixed with banana or applesauce. I do some sort of veggies, either steamed veggies or fresh and I try to make sure that we get a protein in there. Chicken, lamb meatballs, pork, lentils or beans are all good options. I often throw in a piece of fresh mozzarella too.

However, lunch is usually more hectic as we are either out or about to go out, so this is when the Yumi jars or Once Upon a Farm pouches come in very handy.

Dinner

Usually the same as lunch, but I often add in a whole grain and a fruit based puree too.

 

Water

After 6 months, I got a lot more liberal with water. I used to worry that she’d fill up on water and not drink breastmilk, but now she has water available at every meal and sometimes in between. She never seems to guzzle it, and if she does once in a while, I assume she needs it. I find that now that she’s eating more, the water really helps with constipation.

For cups, I use the Munchkin 360 Water Cup and the Zoli Straw Cup. I alternate between these two, and am starting to introduce an open lidded cup.

High Chair Time

Babies are all about routine so for breakfast and dinner, we always make sure to have it in the high chair. I usually sit or kneel in front of her, sometimes I am eating as well. I’ve really liked the 4 Moms highchair as it has a sleek look but also feels safe and sturdy. It is also easy to clean as the tray comes up with a snap. The tray is also magnetic so if you purchase their magnetic tableware, it stays on the tray. However I didn’t find this to be necessary as I tried one and Aurora could lift it pretty easily so now I use mostly the suction tableware (favorite suction tableware here)

 

Messy Business

We allow her to get messy. I know not everyone is okay with that but I learned that it is a valuable part of the discovery for her. If I kept wiping her face (which she hates) or limiting what she grabbed and flung, it wouldn’t be much of an exploration. Yes, this means that I clean yogurt off the walls, my bibs are stained and she looks like she took a bath in food at the end of some meals, but at least she had fun?

I recommend getting a good splat mat. I was very excited to find these Gathre mats, made out of leather (!) which are stain proof, waterproof and THEY LOOK REALLY NICE. I am always trying to get away from the cheesy prints, animals, etc when I can, so this was a nice breath of fresh air. They have all sorts of sizes and colors here–I got the high chair one.

Also, we use both the OXO waterproof bib (with the little catchall) and the green sprout cloth bibs. The latter is also waterproof but does get stained (even though I use stain remover) but I find them to be a little more comfortable for her and easier to put on or take with you.

 

Appetite

All kids are different in this department, but for now, I’d say that Aurora has a hearty appetite. I have noticed this appetite dramatically increase around 7/8 months. I believe it corresponds to her physical development. She was really crawling fast and cruising, and I assume, burning so many calories as she is moving all. day. Long. She also had had a couple solid months of repeated exposure so seemed to really get the hang of the whole food thing.

I found the biggest factor in feeding meals is timing. If it is too soon after milk, she’s less interested. If it has been too long since a nap and she’s tired, she’s less interested. If her dad comes home in the middle of dinner, dinner is over because she’s just too excited. Each meal takes thought, time and money, but I’ve learned myself that it’s okay if she doesn’t eat it because this repeated exposure is just all the part of the bigger process. It’s hard to predict if she’ll finish her plate or not eat more than a bite. I try not to let it get to me or feel like I am “failing” if she doesn’t eat a lot.

Baby Solids: Easier than Homemade Baby Food

So while I do love to make homemade baby food for my little girl, whether purée or steamed veggies, meats etc, it takes a lot of time. For me it was finding a balance. I wanted to enjoy making her food and not get bogged down by the frequency and quantity of it.

I found the balance thanks to two companies that are making & delivering fresh baby food to your doorstep.

Fresh Baby Food Delivered

Thank goodness for my weekly Yumi orders. This company makes fresh purées, using all low sugar, organic and nutrient dense ingredients. They offer Stages 1, 2 and 3, based on the age of your child. Each stage also takes into where your baby is in her/his development, so they use ingredients that, for example, have more calcium for those starting to walk. You can edit your order and select the jars that you want. They arrive perfectly chilled and ready to serve. The hard plastic jars do make it easy to bring them with you if you are out as well.

One of the best (and worst things) about the Yumi jars? They do go bad quickly. However, that’s because they are super fresh and contain ZERO preservatives. It does mean that I make sure to use them as soon as I can, or freeze them if I cannot. Generally, I make sure to have at least 1 jar of Yumi present at every meal.

I started with the Stage 2 as I really liked their unique combinations and found that it was easier for me to whip up a batch of one ingredient purées found in Stage 1 and outsource the more difficult combinations. Whipping up just sweet potatoes for example, is way easier than combining dragonfruit, chia seeds, coconut milk, Japanese sweet potato, quinoa, banana, wheat germ oil and pineapple for the Dragonfruit Chia Pudding in Stage 3.

 

As Aurora’s appetite grew, we went from using just a little bit of the jar (maybe over 3 or 4 meals), to now using half or a whole jar during meals. I also add in other items at each meal, including BLW foods, but if I didn’t, I bet she’d eat the whole jar every time.

I also found that she preferred some foods right away and others, she liked more and more over increasing exposure. That is how babies are with all foods so don’t give up on a food or a Yumi flavor, if they don’t take to it right away. For Aurora, the more fruity flavors definitely were instant hits but she now takes down her savories like the Jon & Vinny’s Polenta Mushroom Bolognese like a champ.

 

On the Go

Now that we are on 2 naps per day (HALLELUJAH), we have about 3 hours of awake time. This means I can get us out of the house! Our lunch is almost always somewhere else. Usually, we go to a playground or a park, so it’s more picnic style. In this case, I find it the most convenient to use our Once Upon a Farm pouches.

I LOVE these pouches. I stumbled upon them while looking for yogurt as they are in the refrigerated aisle. They are delivered monthly right to our door, and contain only fresh, organic, cold pressed ingredients.

They often contain fruit but that doesn’t mean they are too sweet. The balance is key here as there is usually a fat (avocado, coconut milk, chia) to give it heft plus they use unique flavors like turmeric, spearmint and rosemary.

I like that I don’t have to think about adding rosemary myself but am still gaining the benefits of Aurora’s palate being exposed to different flavors.

For her age, we are in the Stage 2 to Stage 3 area and she’s loving the combinations. I have tried all of them too and I have to agree. The Wild Rumpus Avocado is a personal favorite–that combo with pineapple, mint and avos is SO delicious.

The pouch makes it easy to use in the car seat, the stroller and at a restaurant. Aurora learned quickly how to feed herself with these so I just make sure to be next to her and help her push up more of the goodness to the top when she is running low.

 

What is different about the Once Upon a Farm pouches vs Yumi?

Well the obvious pouch versus jar makes the OUAF easier for traveling and Yumi better for sit down meal time. I’ve also found that the OUAF are a little more fruit based, while Yumi has some jars that are strictly savory. OUAF can last a bit longer in the refrigerator which can be helpful when you are in between groceries, whereas Yumi is pretty much good under a week. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and for me, the the sweet spot is having both on hand because since they both serve different functions for Aurora.

 

Other brands that I use? 

HappyBaby (for Oatmeal)

Plum Organics pouches (when traveling or I run out of Once Upon a Farm)

Peter Rabbit pouches (when traveling or I run out of Once Upon a Farm)

 

 

 

Baby Solids: Typical Foods for 6 to 9 months

Continued post from Baby Solids: Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

For me, the hardest part was figuring out WHAT to make and worrying that her meals were “well rounded.” The below list shows a lot of the go-tos that I prepare, in addition to my Once Upon a Farm pouches and Yumi jars.

Blends/Purées

  • Avocado with a squirt of lime*
  • Applesauce mixed with a nut butter (I alternate peanut, cashew and almond)*
  • Nut Butter smashed with Banana*
  • Overnight Oats*
    • I mix oats, raisins, ceylon cinnamon, chia seeds and almond milk in a tupperware. I let that juicy combo sit overnight in the fridge, then blend in the am. She loves it!
  • Plain Whole Yogurt mixed with a smashed fruit*
    • I often used Siggi’s or Brown Cow Greek Yogurt. I just started the Stonyfield Organic whole plain yogurt cups as they are portioned well
    • Best fruits to smash are raspberries and blackberries
  • Carrots (pureed)
  • Black Beans
  • Hummus
  • Sprouted Lentils blended with garlic
  • Peas*
  • Chili
    • Kidney beans, ground beef, spices, tomatoes–make your usual chili and then blend! I was just careful to limit added salt and hot spices.
  • HappyBaby brand oatmeal mixed with almond milk or apple sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash with tomato sauce

BLW/Whole Foods

  • Skinned Cucumber spears
  • Skinned whole carrots (good for teething)
  • Celery
  • Steamed whole carrots
  • Steamed broccoli*
  • Steamed Cauliflower
  • Steamed Asparagus*
  • Blueberries, halved*
  • Strawberries, quartered
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Pear, skinned/wedged
  • Pineapple (organic rings or chunks)*
  • Mango, skinned/wedged*
  • Mozzarella balls (cilegine!)*
  • Cheese…*
  • Baguette Bread, specifically from Bay Cities (if you’ve been to Santa Monica, you know)*
  • Polenta
  • Whole Wheat fusili
  • Chunks of steak (filet or tender cuts)*
  • Roast Pork tenderloin chunks
  • Chicken pieces (darker pieces seem to be easier)
  • Salmon, flaked
  • Lamb Meatballs
  • Chicken meatballs
  • Sweet Potato Fries!!!*
    • We tried this once at a restaurant at 9 months. She LOVED it. Oops.

*Aurora favorite

 

Her first sweet potato fry

 

Interested in my recommended baby food, delivered to your door? Next post coming up: Baby Solids: Easier than Homemade

Baby Solids: Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

This is a follow up to my previous post where I share what we did for solids from 4-6 months.

 

At 6 months, I really noticed a change in Aurora and a much greater interest in food. Now it was much harder to eat in front of her as she was very interested in what was on my plate. At around 6 months, Aurora also started to crawl, and her being more mobile made it even harder to keep food away from her! I really welcomed her interest in food though, as I know that could only help her become a better eater.

There are two schools of thought: Baby Led Weaning and Purées only. I saw the merits in each and decided to do a modified form that included both styles.

Baby Led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is giving your child whole pieces of food, cut into manageable yet larger pieces/chunks so that they can grasp and feed themselves.

Pros

  • Baby practices dexterity, pincer grasp and handling food
  • Baby chooses what they want to eat
  • Baby practices “chewing” by gnawing on the foods
  • This approach is more exploratory
  • Parent doesn’t have to give every spoonful (though watching and helping is necessary)
  • Parent saves time if making purées
    • However, I still spent time preparing the BLW foods

Cons

  • Choking!
  • Baby might not get a lot of food successfully from fingers to mouth
  • Baby might get frustrated that they can’t get food into mouth

Purées

Pros

  • More success in actually getting nutrition into your baby’s mouth
  • Parent can direct more of the exposure to tastes
  • Pouches are useful on the go

Cons

  • Time consuming to prepare (if making own)
  • Can be expensive if buying jars/pouches
  • Can be taxing to figure out good combinations & vary meals
  • Baby can get bored or not use hands as much

Our Conclusion

  • I found that a combination of BLW and Purées was the best approach for Aurora.
  • I wanted to make sure that she had good exposure to tastes and I wanted to get nutrition and calories into her little body, so purées were a staple of every meal.
  • I enjoy making food for her, so when I had time, I liked to prepare purees with my Béaba, and experiment with new combinations.
  • Aurora was very into BLW as she loves to feed herself. She got very good at the pincer grasp and at handling food quickly–she realized that there was a reward to learning how to do it well!
  • I found that combination for each meal worked well as while she was picking something up, I’d get a spoon loaded and waiting. After she swallowed the bite that she fed herself, I’d offer the spoon.
  • I felt good knowing that I guaranteed that she good nutrition with purees but she had the fun, exploratory aspect of feeding herself with the BLW foods.
  • I also watched many Youtube videos on Infant CPR and walked through it with my babygroup leader. I do suggest doing an Infant CPR course. I used to be a lifeguard so feel pretty confident but have signed up for one just in case as I feel it is valuable to know.

How to do Easy, Fun, Local Trips with Babies

As new parents, you are home more than you’ve ever been. And if you are anything like me, you’ll get stir crazy. I also am very used to traveling a couple times per month, so this whole “staying home” thing gets to me quicker than most.

I’ve found that in lieu of longer trips, which take a lot of mental and physical preparation, as well as the return adjustment period; easy, local trips are the way to go. You want to avoid planes, time changes and long car rides–especially if you have a baby that doesn’t love being in the car (ours does NOT).

Find a Nearby Destination

For us, that means locations that are 2 hours or less in driving distance from Santa Monica. Luckily, we have lots of great options. We can do the desert, the beach, the moutains and lots of unique places in between. This is a major reason why we moved to California!

 

So far for our local trips, we’ve taken Aurora to (not counting anything on a plane):

Venice (3 weeks)

Lake Arrowhead (2 months)

Idyllwild (5 months)

Huntington Beach (6 months)

Newport Beach (8.5 months)

 

Book an Upgraded Room

Okay, so you’ve found that perfect location but what do you now? Renting a hotel room works but realize that if you are going to share one room with your little one, you will need to have lights out at bedtime. This means, you also will either go to bed at 7pm or you will have to tiptoe around and hang out in the dark. Not the best option (though we’ve done that in Huntington and let’s just say, we ate room service in the bathroom… not awesome). If you are going with the hotel route, definitely upgrade your room so you can have a separate room with a door where your baby can sleep peacefully while you order room service in the other room.

 

Book a House

Usually more affordable option, and often more comfortable, is booking a house. Even if you book a tiny bungalow or a 1 bedroom, you’ll be able to let your baby nap in a separate room. This means that you can actually enjoy nap times and also, have a nice dinner, watch a movie and basically take advantage of all that sleeping time to relax with your partner. You also will have a kitchen, which is very helpful for baby food preparation and cooking in.

 

 

Get a Babysitter

Now I have never done this, but I imagine that if you feel comfortable with a hotel babysitter service or finding a local person to babysit, that is a great option for you to have a day or evening out. Personally, I would be a little hesitant to do this unless I brought someone with me to babysit. However, if it were a vetted person that was provided by the hotel, I would consider it. If this doesn’t feel comfortable to you, skip this tip and read below.

 

Go with the Baby’s Schedule

Like all travel now, it will revolve around your baby’s daily schedule. We are on the two nap a day schedule so for us, our day looked like this:

7am: Wake Up

7-10am: Breakfast for baby, cooking breakfast for parents, play time, coffee and hanging out

10am-11:30am: Nap time for baby/Parents could clean (yay!), relax, watch tv or one person could go out for a bit

11:30-2:30: Feed baby then out the door. We used this 3 hour window to explore and have lunch out. One day we walked around Balboa and Aurora got way too many presents at the toy store. The other day we took the ferry over to Balboa Park and checked out the silly rides, walked to the beach and found a playground and found a nice lunch spot.

230-4ish: Baby Naps somewhere in here. Parents relax or one person goes out. 

4-6pm: Sunset stroll. We either put her in the stroller or baby carrier and took a nice walk around the neighborhood. Afterwards, we brought her back for play time, dinner, bath and bed. *Note: the stroll is better with wine.

7pm: Bedtime for baby. Dinner and fun time for parents!

Sunset stroll

 

Have a Stay Home Date

On our recent trip to Newport Beach, I knew that we were going to be spending a lot of time in our Airbnb. We were staying on Balboa Island, which is pretty quiet anyway, so we were looking forward to our nights in.

To make these nights a little more exciting, I decided that we should each take “charge” of a night. The person in charge had to come up with a theme, get the groceries ahead and cook the dinner. (Cleaning up is a bonus!) They must inform the other person of the theme and any “dress code.” Also, if games or movies are involved, be prepared!

Coconut Shrimp

My husband took the first night and went with a James Bond theme as he knows my obsession with Bond movies. We both dressed up, even though we were just in our rental home’s dining room, and drank shaken martinis and ate steaks. We washed it down with a Bond movie.

Night two was my night– I went with a tiki theme and made coconut shrimp, teriyaki pork and had a speciality rum drink. I brought some island decor and sourced local shrimp while down there. With the reggae on, we enjoyed a “tropical” evening, despite the fact that it was raining outside.

A little cheesy? Sure! But if you aren’t able to leave the house, you might as well mix it up and make the nights memorable and different from your usual nights in at home.

 

Try not to Bring a Lot

I say try, because I know that this is hard. It is harder to pack for a baby when you are driving because you are able to pack more! Here’s some advice after overpacking and being buried alive in the car a few too many times.

  • Wash Clothes
    • If you have rented a house, count on the washing machine to save you from bringing too much clothes. If not, I brought dreft packets for some sink washing.
  • No tub
    • Check out the sink and bathtub situations and if you can avoid bringing a bathtub, do it. Those things are huge.
  • Bring a clip on high chair.
  • Limit toys.
    • Your baby will be in a new place so that is very exciting already and there’s lots to explore. I have lost so so so many toys on trips.
  • Bring outlet covers.
    • You can’t babyproof a whole hotel room or house, but I did wish I had a few extra things like outlet covers, especially now that we have a very fast crawler.
  • Bring pre-made baby food
    • I didn’t want to be blending my own baby food there and didn’t know what sort of kitchen utensils they’d have, so I brought a freezer pack that had all my own baby food ready to go. I made a few ahead and put them in these small food containers.
    • I also brought along my favorite freshly made purées from Yumi and these excellent fresh pouches from Once Upon a Farm. Both require refrigeration so be sure to get a good size freezer pack for the ride.

Trust me, these little local trips are worth it! They are good for your mental health, your relationship and it is good for your little one to see and do new things! I know Aurora was very excited the whole time and enjoyed all the “new” around her. The more you travel with them, the easier it gets for all of you!

How To Travel while Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and traveling actually go together quite well–when you are bringing your baby, that is. When you are traveling WITHOUT your baby and you are still a breastfeeding mama, things get complicated. That is why I wanted to share my advice for how I managed to make sure Aurora was fed,  to keep my supply up, and to safely bring all my milk back home while I was traveling.

A box of milk, thanks to Milk Stork

Firstly, breastfeeding shouldn’t keep you from traveling. It is not easy but it is definitely doable, and as a breastfeeding mom, you rarely have breaks anyway so if a worthwhile opportunity comes along, I suggest you take it.

 

Leave a HUGE Stash

You need to first make sure that you leave your home with enough breastmilk to feed your little one while you are away. I produce enough but was never an “over producer” so for me, this was the hardest part.

To make sure that I had enough, I would wake up at 3am and pump in the middle of the night every night. This made the most sense for me because throughout the day Aurora drinks a lot and she also doesn’t like me to pump in front of her (it’s too interesting/she rips out the cords etc).

It is not ideal to wake up in the middle of the night but I would set up all the parts so it was ready to go, plug the pump in near the couch and just stumble out to pump in a half-asleep stupor. After, I’d pop straight in the fridge. Don’t worry about labeling/storing until morning. I found that the more things I did where I used my brain (like writing down the date and ounces, lol) the harder it was for me to fall back asleep.

FaceTime with my angel

It turned out that we JUST had enough because she was eating more than expected that weekend. Most babies need about 25 ounces per day around 6/7/8 months. Aurora was eating closer to 28 ounces, in addition to solids for breakfast and dinner, so our calculations were a bit off.

Moral of the story: the more you can leave, the better!

 

Make Sure you have a Fridge!

One thing to note is that you will need access to a refrigerator to store your milk while away, so I made sure to call our hotel (in this case, the Austin Motel) to make sure that they had one–they did!

Also, an in-room microwave is super handy for sterilizing, but not necessary. Check and see if they have one or can bring one in.  I used just hot water in the bathroom and special, all natural dishsoap, which worked fine, but I would’ve loved a microwave.

 

Use Milk Stork to get your milk home safely

Milk Stork SAVED me! I am so happy that I found them and that a service like this even exists! Depending on the option  you choose, they send a Pump & Ship or Pump & Tote package to your hotel that either allows you to ship your milk back (yes it’ll keep it all cold for 72 hours) or gives you a carry on tote to take with you on the plane.

I opted to do both so I could ship the majority and then carry on a day’s worth. This was ideal as it takes about a day for the milk to get there (it is overnighted via Fedex) so I beat my milk home. If you are going for longer trips, this would really come in handy as you can send your milk back home while you are still away!  

Milk Stork Carry On Tote

I also really liked the customer service and how Fedex picks up the package from your hotel.

Note: in my situation, Fedex did NOT pick up in time so I actually carried the package to the nearest Fedex store. It wa not worth the risk of them forgetting that precious milk!

 

Airplane Pumping

Until airplanes make a special room for breastfeeding moms to pump, trying to pump while up in the air will not be easy. You are forced to either make it work in the tiny bathroom or at your seat underneath blankets. I’ve done the latter on an overnight flight when everyone was sleeping, lights were off and it was only my husband and I in the row. Those conditions don’t happen often, so I would suggest thinking about the flying time when you are deciding if you are going on a plane without your baby. For me, the flight was to Austin from LAX, and only about 2 hours so I could make it work without pumping until the airport.

 

Airport Pumping

Airports have come a long way and now are some of the most well equipped locations for pumping! I am very thankful to have discovered Mamava, a female owned company that has created self standing lactation rooms and pumping pods. They are clean, uplifting and private–plus they are in a lot of public spaces.

Mamava

To find one, download the Mamava app and you will be able to find out which terminal they are in and even if there are other breastfeeding stations in your area. This was a lifesaver for me all across the country!

 

Good Breastmilk Storage Bags

Now with all this time spent pumping your milk, you want to make sure that your “liquid gold” doesn’t leak! I have tried Lasinoh bags as well as Unimom Breastmilk bags, but for traveling, I recommend the heavy duty Booby Bags. These have a double ziplock and they are sturdier material. They also fit more (up to 8 ounces) easily.

Booby Bags!

You can pick them up right here. I am so happy that I did the research and found them!

 

Portable Mini Freezer Pack

So, how was I going to keep the milk chilled before I got it into my hotel refrigerator? I stowed a small freezer pack (like this cute one) in my purse before I went out. So handy!

 

Bring along Lactation Bites

Pumping all day long is not fun and many are worried that their milk supply will drop. To fight that and to fight my all day long hunger cravings, I packed a long a bag of Majka–delicious lactation bites. These are all natural, organic and full of stuff that is good for you and your milk supply. I love the taste of the chocolate bites and the protein powder is excellent too! I didn’t notice any drop in supply!

I pumped 4 times per day and ended up completely replacing my supply when I got back home. And my little daughter was happily fed the whole time. It can happen but just takes a bit of planning. Hopefully, these tips help make it a little easier!

 

xoxo

Kelley

Starting Baby Solids: A Feeding Guide for 4-6 Months

After working so hard to master breastfeeding, introducing solids was a little intimidating. There are so many options, methods and conflicting advice out there that I was overwhelmed. My babygroup leader and my pediatrician never seemed to say the same thing! I however polled a lot of other moms and did some of my own research to come up with what I felt was a suitable time to start for Aurora.

I also heard that Feeding Littles, an online tutorial, is very useful in helpings parents to navigate the best solid food choices for their little ones. I haven’t tried it yet but so many friends rave about it!

We first tried solids at exactly 4 months. She was holding her head up well but could not sit up unassisted. We sat her in a baby Bumbo seat and started with only purées. The first attempt was pretty good! She seemed interested and surprised and would open up her mouth for more.

So far the only food she very much hasn’t liked is plain greek yogurt! But if I mix in a fruit, she loves  it!

 

Allergens

We started with one ingredient foods and continued the food one to two times per day for 3 days to make sure that she didn’t have an allergy. The 3 day rule is because sometimes they don’t show an allergy right away.

Eating Eggies!

We were told to introduce allergens (Dairy, Egg and Nuts) early, so we made sure to expose Aurora to each of these at least once per week and have continued that to now. There is conflicting advice on this but we decided this was the best route for us, after researching and talking it over with our pediatrician.

There is also an option to add these allergens to the baby’s bottles in a powder form, called Ready, Set, Food. I didn’t go this route as she doesn’t have bottles consistently but I have heard very good things.

 

Baby Solids at 4 Months

We decided to start with only purées. I was not making homemade food at this point since she only was just starting to eat and eating very little. I decided to wait till she was eating more in quantity before I went the homemade route as that’s a lot of time and energy to be wasting most of it. The brands that I used were HappyBaby, Earthganics, Peter Rabbit and Plum Baby.

However now, I wish I had known about YUMI and Once Upon a Farm, both are fresh and require refrigeration and in my opinion, better than the shelf brands (which need preservatives to stay fresh).

 

  • HappyBaby Oatmeal mixed with Breastmilk
    • Very thin consistency
  • Avocado
    • Smashed and mixed with breastmilk
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash
  • Peas
  • Carrots

Baby Solids at 5 Months:

  • Egg Yolk
    • Scrambled and mixed with breastmilk
  • Broccoli
    • Smashed with a fork
  • Peanut butter
    • mixed with breastmilk
  • Prunes
  • Pears
  • Banana
    • Jarred & smashed
  • Full Fat Greek Yogurt

Breakfast at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont

Baby Solids at 6 Months:

  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Whole Eggs
    • Scrambled with whites
  • Steak
    • Filet mignon pieces
  • Salmon
    • Flaked pieces
  • Cheese
    • Mozzarella, Cheddar and other mild cheeses
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Pineapple

 

Solids While Traveling

Aurora was 6 months old when we traveled for 3 weeks for Christmas and it was during this time that we started using more puree pouches as it was much easier on the go than trying to spoon feed. Aurora loves to suck right out of the pouches!

We found the fewest ingredient pouches and stuck with those (ie. Sweet Potatoes, Prunes, Applesauce) but we did graduate to some combinations as she approached 7 months.

I tried to be mindful of each pouch’s ingredients to make sure she was only being exposed to ONE new ingredient each time. For instance, if the pouch was apple, squash and blueberry, I made sure that she had already tried apple and squash so I would know if she had an allergy to blueberry.

 

Foods to Avoid

  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Added Salt
  • Added Sugars
  • Juice
  • Too Much Water
    • 2 oz per day is recommended as a maximum
    • The worry is that they will fill up on water over breastmilk

 

Conclusions

Since we do a mix of baby led weaning and purées, I can tell that Aurora prefers to feed herself. She loves chunks of food and holding the spoon, though it can get messy in both cases!

However you decide to do it, is great! Just be sure to remember that breastmilk or formula should still be pretty much the only source of nutrition as this stage.