Help! My Child Hates the Beach!

hates the beach

What to do When Your Child Hates the Beach

hates the beach

Everyone loves the beach, right? No? What if your child hates the beach? You don’t have to avoid beach vacations forever. Here are some reasons why your child hates the beach and some ideas of ways to overcome them. This post was inspired by Cloud Surfing Kids reader, Jason Redd, who commented on Facebook that his daughter used to hate the texture of sand. Although she is now older and has learned to enjoy the beach, I’m sure there are others like her who could use some advice. Your beach vacation doesn’t have to be a disaster, even if your child isn’t enjoying it at first. Read on to learn some steps to take to help your child overcome hating the beach.

Facebook Question:

“Any tips for children who do NOT like the texture of the sand? At 18mo our daughter would tuck her feet up if we tried to sit her in the sand. She eventually ventured off our blanket but it took a while.”

 

Hates the beach

To address the “beach sheets” question: I haven’t tried them! Have any of you reading tried the large “beach sheets” that brag the sand is easy to shake off? Tell us in the comments below what you think of them compared to a regular beach towel.

I have learned a lot about sensory perception from the book Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals, by Angie Voss, OTR. This book lists common sensory issues that sensitive children may have, gives the reason the issue occurs, and lists ways to help. I consider this book a valuable resource for every parent or teacher, even if your child isn’t particularly sensitive. Several of the ideas here come from the recommendations in this book.

The Problem: Hates the Texture of Sand

The feet are very sensitive and children can easily become overwhelmed by the new sensory input. New textures can be painful to a child, especially if they over-register tactile input. Sand or grass can literally cause pain, even if it feels like nothing to you. It can also throw kids off when the texture suddenly changes, like if they step on a rock or shell. The experience can be terrifying to them.

Ways to Help

    • Provide sand socks, water shoes, sandals, or even regular socks if that’s all you have.
    • Massage feet with deep pressure.
    • Use a blanket or towel to offer a “safe place” from the sand.
    • Work up to standing in sand by allowing child to feel sand first with hands, then maybe feel it with feet without standing, then standing for a moment, then following your footsteps to walk in it.
    • Don’t force your child to get in the sand until he/she feels comfortable.

The Problem: Hates the Wind

Fear of the wind can be very real. Wind is unpredictable and can be disturbing as it blows into a sensitive child’s ears.

Ways to Help

Provide earplugs, ear muffs, a hooded shirt, or towel to cover your child’s head. Bring a pop up tent to the beach.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your shopping convenience. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which goes toward the operation of this website. I appreciate your support!  

The Problem: Blowing Sand Hurts Skin

If you’re on the beach on a very windy day, the wind might blow the sand onto you, causing a painful sensation.

Ways to Help

Hates the Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provide a rash guard shirt and long pants. As a bonus you’ll be adding extra sun protection! Use a hat with a flap covering the neck. A beach tent can help here too.

The Problem: Scared of the Water/Waves

The ocean waves that are relaxing to you may be terrifying to your child. Like wind, the waves are unpredictable so the uncertainty might be scary for your child. Accept that it might take time to warm up to the ocean waves, and let your child come to the water on their terms. I once watched a father insist that his toddler get into the ocean when the toddler was terrified. The dad ignored his child’s pleas to stay out of the water and carried him into the waves. As he swirled the boy through the water, the child screamed in terror. Next the father let go of the boy, letting him go under the waves. He quickly took him out of the water, but as I and the other people on the beach stared at him in horror, he looked at us and said, “Well, they’ve got to learn to swim sometime, right?” We were all too shocked to reprimand him for being so mean to his child.

My son John was afraid to get in the ocean until he was three. He would test the water if we held him, but for the most part he was content to play in the sand. I didn’t mind because I didn’t have to run after him as much I usually have to.

Ways to Help

hates the beach

There may be some truth in the idea that your child needs to get used to the water, but there is no point in creating a traumatic incident for them. If your child is afraid of the ocean, try digging a small hole in the sand and filling it with water. They can splash in this little “pool” and get used to the idea of getting wet from ocean water. Take your child for a walk along the shoreline, staying clear of the water unless they want to get closer. Once they are okay with going near the water, play “chase the waves” with them: as the waves go out, sneak down the shoreline a little. When you see a wave coming, run back up the beach and try to not get “caught” by the wave. For a very small child you might want to grab them and lift them up as the wave approaches, at least until you know they’re alright with getting splashed by the waves.

 

The bottom line is, if your child is scared at the beach, do what you can to provide a retreat but still allow them to be on the beach and explore on their terms. It may take some time for them to warm up to the new environment, but most children do grow to enjoy their time at the beach. If your child struggled at first on the beach and you have other tips to share, I would love to hear them in the comments below! Are there any other things that make your child hate the beach?

Hates the Beach

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AeroBed for Kids: A Review

Best Air Mattress

The Best Air Mattress for Kids

We have used and enjoyed AeroBed for Kids for six years, so I figured it was time I gave it a review. If you are looking for a travel bed for your toddler, preschooler, or young child, I highly recommend the AeroBed for Kids.

The AeroBed Mattress for Kids is designed similarly to the regular AeroBed mattress: it is compact when deflated and it fills with air simply and in seconds. It comes with a washable fleece mattress cover and has a 4-inch bumper to keep children from rolling out of bed. Our AeroBed for Kids Mattress lasted us 6 years with regular use before it got an irreparable hole in it.  This week I’m visiting my parents with my 3 1/2 year old son, John and the question of where he would sleep came up. Until he was three years old, we used the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib for him, but he’s really too tall for it now. The guest beds at my parents’ house are very high off the ground, and John is not used to sleeping in a regular bed, so we ended up using a regular twin-sized AeroBed (without the raised sides).  It’s worked well, but when I checked on John throughout the night he was often on the floor. Once he had his body wrapped around the bookcase, snuggled in tight to keep warm. Last night I found him like this:

Aerobed for Kids

I think we will go ahead and buy a replacement AeroBed for Kids for him. We used our first one for our daughter Ella until she was 8, so we should have a good 3-4 years still where John can use it. Ella was very sensitive to her sleep environment, so it helped to always have the same mattress for her when we traveled. This mattress is even comfortable enough for an adult, as we know from experience after the many times we fell asleep while laying down to keep Ella in bed. Here are the details on the mattress:

Specifications:

  • Inflatable bed made specially for kids; sleep surface measures 50 by 25 inches
  • Constructed of heavy-duty PVC with electronically welded seams
  • 4-inch-high surround safety cushion helps kids stay on the bed
  • Included AC pump inflates bed in under a minute; deflates in under 15 seconds
  • Comes with thick, washable, fitted mattress pad with star and moon design
  • Comes with carrying bag
  • Weighs 11 lbs.

Pros

  • Most comfortable air mattress we’ve tried.
  • Quick set up and take down.
  • Transportable.
  • Raised sides keep kids from rolling out.
  • Comes with fitted sheet.

Cons

  • A/C power outlet required for inflation (might be tricky when camping).
  • Too big/heavy to pack with regular luggage.

When we traveled by air with this air mattress, we added the kids blankets and pillows to the carrying case and then we checked the entire bag. The bag is just a duffel bag with a drawstring. We tied it in a knot and ours was never ripped or damaged. The downside is if you have to pay for checked bags, you might want to consider whether this is worth the extra bag fee. If you have a very sensitive sleeper, it is probably worth the extra cost.

Tip

If you are using the mattress on hard flooring instead of carpet, it is a good idea to put a blanket under the mattress. This helps prevent punctures and also keeps the mattress from squeaking on the floor and waking everyone up.

 

I have personally tried several brands of air mattresses, but I have never found a comfortable one until I slept on an AeroBed. I recommend this brand with confidence after using it for many years.

*Disclaimer: I am reviewing this product by my own choice. AeroBed is not sponsoring this post and I am not receiving compensation for it. Regardless of whether or not I am compensated for posts, I promise to always give my honest opinion on any products I discuss on this website. This post does contain Amazon links for your shopping convenience. When you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission, which will go toward the operation of this website. Thank you for your support!

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Food on the Plane: What Can I Bring?

Food on the Plane

Guidelines For Food On The Plane

This week we are talking about food on the plane. This question from Reader Kris A. prompted me to write about what food items are permitted on the plane.

“I was just trying to figure out how to keep yogurt cold. We can’t bring those ice packs on the plane anymore, right? Can I even bring yogurt?”

Answer:

They consider yogurt a liquid, so it’s not allowed. Two ways you could bring yogurt: in a 3.4 oz or less container within your quart-sized liquids bag. (You could get those refillable squeeze pouches.) Or you could freeze yogurt sticks (like Go-Gurt) and bring them frozen. Ice packs are usually allowed as long as their frozen. You could also freeze grapes and use those as an ice pack and a later cool treat.

TIP: If you pack frozen liquids, like yogurt and ice packs, they must be completely frozen when you pass through TSA security checkpoints. If they are slushy or in liquid form they must comply with the 3-1-1 rule for liquids in carry-on bags. Details about how to pack frozen foods can be found here.

Things to Know About Food on the Plane

  • Liquid or gel foods are not permitted through TSA checkpoints (examples: yogurt, pudding, peanut butter in a squishy pack, fruit squeezers, applesauce) unless they are in containers 3.4 oz or less and fit inside your permitted quart-sized bag. Separate this liquids bag at security for separate viewing in the x-ray machine.
  • Exceptions to the above rule: a reasonable amount of baby food when traveling with baby or toddler, formula, breast milk. See this for guidelines on food and milk for babies.
  • Once you pass through security, you may buy liquids or gels and bring them on the plane. Water, yogurt, etc. is allowed on the plane, just not allowed to be brought from home.
  • If you are traveling to an international destination, be sure to look up the restrictions for that country. Often fresh fruit, meat, and open containers of food are not permitted.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I may receive a small commission when purchases are made through these links. Your support is appreciated! 

Ideas for Food to Pack

These are some of the things I usually pack for our flights.

  • Sunbutter and Jelly sandwiches
  • String Cheese or Babybel Cheese
  • Granola bars
  • Goldfish Crackers
  • Lollipops
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Green pepper
  • Hard boiled egg (even though it’s stinky)
  • Dry cereal
  • Chocolate (for us a Hershey’s Kiss is a great meltdown diversion)
  • Raisins
  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Cheese Sandwich Crackers
  • Banana (keep it free from bruises using this Banana Saver)
  • Power Bars

I always bring a water bottle for each child. I love the Camelback sports bottles because they don’t leak and the straw closes to keep it from touching germy surfaces. The Camelback straw also provides resistive sucking, which gives sensory input that calms our nervous system. Read here to find out other items that will help keep your child calm on a plane.

 

What are your favorite foods to pack for the flight? Have you ever had to give food up at security checkpoints?

Food on the Plane

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Milk Options: Flying with Toddler

milk options flying

What milk options do I have flying with my toddler?

I came across this photo today and was reminded of that brief period of time, after nursing/formula, when my son John was still very dependent on milk. I was about to take a flight with him, and was trying to figure out the best milk options for flying. I searched online for tips but didn’t find any. I reached out to another family travel blogger, Keryn Means of Walking On Travels, because her two boys are just a little older than John. She hadn’t written anything yet on this topic of the best milk options for flying, so I offered to research more and write a post for her blog.

Formula, milk boxes, reusable containers, airport vendors, airline…Click here to read about my choice of milk options when flying with toddlers.

Milk options flying

This picture was taken on Mother’s Day and I was supposed to be working as a flight attendant but after a reassignment that had me working into Mother’s Day morning, I was able to be home in time for brunch. Sometimes reassignments work out for the best. Not usually, but sometimes! Winking smile

 

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Flying with a Sensory Sensitive Child

Tips for Flying With Your Sensory Sensitive Child

Does your child cry or cover their ears at loud noises? Meltdown when too much is going on around them? Shy away from crowds? If you have a sensory sensitive child you may be nervous about flying with him/her, but with careful planning you can have a successful flight! Here are the things I have found to be helpful for flying with a sensory sensitive child:

sensory sensitive child

photography by Sugar Maple Portraits

Practice

Start by helping your child know what to expect when flying. Check out books at the library on airports and flying; watch you tube videos of airports and airplanes; play “airplane” by setting up a few chairs and taking a “practice” flight, including going through TSA security checkpoints. Talk about the noise of the agents over the P.A. system, waiting in line, the noise of the airplane engines, the roller coaster feeling of takeoff and landing. Talk about turbulence and how it is like a boat on the waves. Don’t let these ideas overwhelm your child. Talk about them in a matter-of-fact way and back off if they start to get worried—return to talk about it another day.

Prepare

The way you prepare for your travel day will be the key to a successful trip with your sensory sensitive child. Minor setbacks like a spill on clothing or a scrape on the hand can ruin the day.  You may find that you need to have a little more on hand than parents of more flexible children. I take pride in packing for nearly every situation yet packing concisely. Here is an example of what I pack for my kids to make sure I have everything we need. A few of the items I’m always sure to have: a full change of clothes, Band-Aids, snacks, water bottles, blanket, toddler pillow (if child is very young), bubbles, tweezers. (The tweezers may sound random, but I’ve dealt with both ticks and splinters when traveling. Trust me, you want to have a small pair of tweezers with you always.)

Pack Sensory Activities

Whether your child craves sensory input or shies from it, incorporating a variety on sensory activities will your child remain calm. Here is a post I wrote on ways to incorporate proprioceptive activities throughout the travel day. I couldn’t believe it when a friend told me she packed just two items per child for inflight entertainment for their 8 hour flight!  That is awesome if your child is content with that, but most children need more. I find that a sensitive child does well with lots of different sensory input. I try to pack a variety of sensory activities for travel.

These are the busy bags I packed for my kids when they were 7 and 2:

Busy bag for a 5-8 year old

Busy bag for a Toddler

Provide Area of Retreat

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There are several things you can do to provide an area of retreat for your sensory sensitive child. A floppy hat, music with over-the-ear-headphones, noise-reducing ear muffs, a blanket tent, or a stroller canopy are just a few of the things you can provide to create an area of retreat for when your child feels overwhelmed. Family Travel Blog Walking on Travels shows a great way to create a Sleeping Tent on the airplane which could also provide a great place for a sensory break. You can find that post here.

These are just a few ideas for ways to help your sensory sensitive child enjoy their travel day. What other things help you and your child when you’re away from home? Do you have any tricks for averting a meltdown in public? I’d love to hear what works for you. Comment below or on our social media pages. Thanks for reading this post!

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Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors

What to consider before sending your children alone (as an unaccompanied minors) on a flight:

Are you thinking about letting your child to fly alone, as an Unaccompanied Minor, this summer for the first time? Maybe your child is still to young to fly alone, but you’ve wondered at what age he will be old enough? Every airline has different rules about the minimum age at which a child can travel alone, but even if it’s permitted, your child might not be ready.

 

(This post was first published on June 22, 2012 and updated on June 23, 2016.)

When I asked my friends and fellow airline co-workers when they would feel comfortable sending their child to fly on their own, I got mixed responses. In general people felt comfortable letting a mature 10 year old fly alone. Some parents felt that although their child was mature enough at 7, they wouldn’t let even their 13 year old travel alone because they don’t trust the other people on the plane and in the airport.

I’m not sure when I’ll allow my daughter Ella to fly alone. She is now eight, and I would not feel comfortable sending her on a flight as an unaccompanied minor.  A lot depends on your child. Not just their maturity, but how they respond to different circumstances.  I will say that as a flight attendant, I personally feel that under age 7 is definitely too young. Think about off-schedule operations like a medical emergency causing the need to land in another city. Would your child be able to handle the stress and uncertainty of a situation like this? Of course airline personnel will be responsible for and care for your child, but will the unexpected change in plans greatly upset your child? If so, he/she is too young to fly alone.

Unaccompanied Minors

What you need to know before sending your children as unaccompanied minors:

There is no babysitter on board.

Although you pay an extra fee for your child to fly alone, this is not a babysitting service and all that is promised is that the agent will hand the child off to the flight attendants and upon arrival the flight attendants hand the child off to the agent or party picking them up. They check the ID of the person picking the child up before releasing them. In flight there is not a designated flight attendant to care for or entertain your child. The flight attendants check on your child as they are able, but on most flights there is only enough time to get your child settled in their seat, brief them on emergency procedures, and inflight to offer a drink and snack. On a full flight there is rarely time sit and chat or play with your child.

Stay at the gate until the plane departs.

You are responsible to stay with your child until they board the plane and it is important that you stay at the gate until the plane pushes back. I recommend that you stay an extra 30 minutes or so to make sure the plane takes off and doesn’t return to the gate with mechanical problems. (I once had a 5 year old unaccompanied minor whose aunt dropped her off and didn’t stay. We ended up with a 3 hour delay waiting for a new aircraft. The poor girl just had to sit with me while we waited. Luckily I’m a person who loves kids and I did my best to entertain her.)

Tell your child to report anything odd.

You should tell your child that if anyone makes him/her feel uncomfortable, he should let an agent or flight attendant know. Give him permission to report this no matter what the other circumstances are (seatbelt sign on, etc.) so that if some creep is sitting by him they will not feel ashamed to tell someone. I hope that by giving your child permission to report something he/she is unsure about, this will help give them confidence an can stop a terrible incident like this one. As a flight attendant, I always try to tell kids this, but we are not trained to. Agents don’t always know who the person is sitting next to your child. They will try to sit unaccompanied kids together if possible, but now flights are more full and it is difficult to rearrange seating.

Don’t let a potential runaway fly alone.

If you have a teenager who really thinks they are above the rules and they don’t need the U.M. services, you shouldn’t send them alone. Flight attendants remind the child to stay seated until everyone is off the aircraft, but they cannot always tell if someone tries to get off the plane alone. The flight attendant at the door sometimes has other distractions or responsibilities during deplaning and can’t always see every person that exits the plane.

I once had a 14 year old on my flight who thought he was too cool to be escorted to his dad. I realized before every passenger got off the plane that he had escaped, but with minimum crew I wasn’t allowed (per FAA) to leave the aircraft until all passengers had deplaned. I finally was able to run out to find him and luckily found him in baggage claim with his dad. His dad thought nothing of it, so you see where the teen got his attitude that rules don’t matter. But this could have been a runaway opportunity if that is what the kid planned to do. Know your child. If they are not trustworthy, don’t send them alone.

Pack toys and snacks for your child.

Send a small bag on board with your kid with things to keep them entertained. Make sure it’s small enough to keep under his seat. Label EVERYTHING with their name and phone number. Make sure that the person helping them pack for the return flight also sends them with something to do in flight. On one of my flights a young child had NOTHING to do for the 3 hour flight. No book or toy, not anything. When I told the mother picking her up she said that she sent a bag full of books, toys and a Nintendo DS on the outbound flight. The child said they were packed in her checked bags. On most airlines there are not toys or entertainment systems on the flight for the U.M.s!

Emphasize proper etiquette for flying.

Hopefully your child has flown with you many times and you have already taught them basic airline etiquette. If not, make sure you do before they go. The flight attendant call buttons are not a toy and are not to be pushed every 5 minutes. Basically they are for emergencies or for if the seatbelt sign is on but you need something that can’t wait for the next time the flight attendant walks by. (Creepy person making you uncomfortable is a good reason to use the call light.)  See my post 5 Things to Teach Your Kids When Flying and review them with your child.

If siblings are traveling alone together, remind them to keep their voices at an acceptable “indoor voice” level. Remind them that arguing/fighting is NOT acceptable behavior. If you can’t trust them to behave without intervention, they shouldn’t be flying without an adult.

There have been only a couple of kids on my flights who I thought should not be flying alone. The majority of Unaccompanied Minors I have had on my flights have been competent and adorable. So don’t let these reminders scare you out of letting your child fly. Just be sure that he/she really is ready and can be responsible. If you have any questions about kids flying alone, feel free to ask them in the comments below, via email, or post a message to me on Facebook. I’ll help wherever I can.

Have you ever let your child fly as an unaccompanied minor? Do you have any words of advice to add? Comment below and I’ll update the post with your suggestions!

unaccompaniedMinors

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9 Most Useful Things to Pack for the Beach With Kids

pack for the beach

My Favorites to Pack for the Beach:

 

Summer is here! Yippee! How many of you are heading to the beach with kids this summer? Have you thought about what to pack? Today I’ll share with you the things I find most useful to pack for the beach with kids. What are your top things to pack for the beach? Are your essentials listed here? If I missed your most useful beach items,  I’d love for you to add it in the comments section at the end of this post! Also don’t forget to come back every Tuesday for more travel tips.

*TRAVEL TIP: When flying to a beach destination, always pack swimsuits, hats, swim diapers (if needed) and a small bottle of sunscreen (3.4 oz./100mL or less to meet TSA restrictions) just in case the airline loses your checked bags. Then you can still head to the beach while waiting for your luggage to be delivered.

(Disclaimer: For your shopping convenience I have included Amazon links. When you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This goes toward the operation of this blog. I appreciate your support!) 

Floatation Safety Devices

pack for the beach

I fell madly in love with Puddle Jumpers when my daughter Ella was three years old (you can see my mini-review here). These Coast Guard approved life vests allow freedom of movement so your child can practice a full swim stroke while still receiving full floatation aide. Puddle Jumpers are more comfortable to wear than a standard life vest when just playing at the beach, so we were able to keep Ella wearing the Puddle Jumpers even when she was just playing in the sand. It also allowed her more freedom when we were wading, as I could hold her Puddle Jumpers life vest instead of carrying her, allowing her to feel the water more. I was a little disappointed last year, when my then 2.5 year old son, John weighed enough to wear the Puddle Jumpers life vest. This life vest doesn’t roll you to your back, as a standard life vest does. He couldn’t figure that out last year, so we had to go to a standard life vest.  I’m hoping the Puddle Jumpers work for him this year! Even if your child knows how to swim, if they are under five years old, it is said that they would not remember the life saving skills if in a panic. For children under 5 I like to play it safe and have them use flotation devices around the water unless I am holding them.

Sunscreen

Did you know that most popular sunscreens today have oxybenzone, a known endocrine disruptor in them? Read about it here. I have been looking for effective sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone. So far we have found success with the following brands:

Kiss My Face SPF30 Cool Sport

pack for the beach
This sunscreen has absolutely no scent, which is great for my hypersensitive daughter. It rubs in easily and seems to offer great protection from sunburn. I have yet to use it in the water.  I’ll update once we try it at the beach.

Babyganics broad spectrum SPF50+
pack for the beach

This rubs in almost as easily as sunscreens that don’t contain zinc oxide (which is known for it’s pasty white appearance). It protects my super-sensitive daughter, Ella, even when I apply it before she goes to school then  is outside several hours later. It seems to continue working after she gets wet in the sprinkler. Beach camp starts next week, so the true test will be how well it works there. I will update this post after her first week of using this at the beach.

Beyond Coastal Active SPF34
pack for the beach
My husband races sailboats for a living, so sun protection is extremely important for him. He is out on the boat for up to twelve hours some days, sweating and being splashed by salt water. If he is able to reapply sunscreen it is usually only once in the day, so his sunscreen has to be really water resistant. Also it can’t sting his eyes when sweat is dripping down his face. He started using this year and is really liking it.

For a list of safer sunscreen, check out this list from EWG.org.

Baby Powder/Powder Mitt

pack for the beach
The best way to get sand off your skin is by brushing it off with baby powder. For me baby powder is a beach essential. Inhaling the baby powder can cause damage to the lungs, especially for the younger children, so a powder mitt is a good way to go to avoid the powder flying through the air. This mitt is pre-filled with baby powder and you just put it on your hand and brush the sand off. If you have a child in diapers then you do not want to go to the beach without baby powder. Getting the sand off of their damp tushy is impossible without powder, no many how many baby wipes you use.

Mini Sand Toys

pack for the beach
When we go on a beach vacation I really don’t want to fill our bags with sand toys. Most of the time you can get sand toys at your destination, but I have found that they are usually overpriced. I hate packing extra things, but I also hate paying more that I should for cheap toys. We have a mini sand castle mold, shovel, and rake that I pack for any beach vacation. Then if we don’t have access to anything else at least there is something for the kids to dig and play with. This is not an essential item, but has come in handy many times. At home I keep it in the car for spur of the moment trips to the beach.

Waterproof Phone Case or Pouch

pack for the beach
Summertime means my phone lives in a waterproof case. I love the Otterbox series for great protection. I am using the OtterBox Defender for my iphone 5s. Otterbox doesn’t seem to have a waterproof case for the iPhone 6. I would try LifeProof if I had the iPhone 6.  Here is a link to more waterproof options for your phone.

Snackeez Jr.

pack for the beach
These cups are just the right size for a snack on the beach. Your child can sit on a beach chair, kick back, and have both snack and drink right in front of them. The one thing you need to be aware of is that they do drip out of the straw hole if turned over. Make sure they stay upright in your bag  and in the sand.

Vinegar

It’s smart to bring a small bottle of vinegar with you to the beach to use in case of jellyfish stings. You can read about treating jellyfish stings in my post here about one of our Beach Days in St. Thomas. I recommend using a refillable container to just bring a few ounces of white vinegar with you. I have tried probably fifty different brands of refillable containers over the years, and I am usually disappointed with them leaking after several flights. This set of refillable containers, however, has not disappointed me. I have been using these containers for about five years now and have never had a leak yet.

Hooded Towel Cover Up

pack for the beach

Lands End Neps French Terry Cover UP

This reminds me that I haven’t bought these yet this year. For young kids I really love having a hooded towel cover up. When they are wet and shivering, you can go ahead and remove their swimsuits so they will dry faster and put the hooded towel cover up on them to keep them dry and warm. Even if they want to walk around a bit, they stay covered and dry. We usually buy these cover ups from Lands End. You can find something similar on Amazon here.

Aqua Socks

pack for the beach
I LOVE aqua socks for the beach. Sand doesn’t get in them and they protect your child’s feet from rocks or coral. It also protects the tops of their feet from sunburn. I just ordered this pair for my daughter who is attending six weeks of beach camp this summer.

Other things in my beach bag:

  • Towels
  • Swim Diapers
  • Diaper Wipes
  • Ziploc Bags (for trash, shell collecting, to keep things dry)
  • Snacks (avoid chocolate or things that will melt in the heat)
  • Water Bottles
  • Sun Hats (be sure to have hats with a chin strap or you may lose them in the breeze)
  • Insect Repellent (Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent performs even better than DEET products according to this study by the Journal of Insect Science, as reported by NPR in this article.)
  • Waterproof Band-Aids
  • Tissues (store in Ziploc bag so they don’t get wet)

What did I miss? Are there better items out there that I don’t know about yet? What do you pack for the beach with kids? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll check them out!

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Passenger Questions: Flying with Infant: After the Flight

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What if Your Infant is Upset After the Flight?

after flight

What if your child is great in flight but upset and restless after the flight? Many people worry about their first flight with their infant, only to be pleasantly surprised to find it can be the easiest time to travel with a child. Infants are often quite happy with the new sights and sounds and are often lulled to sleep by the noise and vibrations of the airplane. This was the case for one of our readers, so he was perplexed when after the flight  his five month old was inconsolable.  I welcome passenger questions, so I’m glad he asked! He wrote me this email to see what I thought:

Yesterday we returned from our first outing that required air travel, and we found that while we were completely prepared for our flight, we were completely unprepared for the aftermath.

Our 5-month-old could not handle herself when we got home. We bathed her and fed her but she wouldn’t stop crying and could not fall asleep on her own. We think her ears were clogged or something hurt, but we don’t know what it could be. The exact same thing happened on our way there; uncontrollable cry and unable to go to sleep on her own.

We have another trip in a couple of weeks and we would like to ask for your input or ask the site’s community for advice.

Please let me know if you have any questions, your help is greatly appreciated.

I asked the father a few questions and he told me that she did not cry on descent and was not pulling on her ears at home. She was laughing during taxi (fun girl Smile). The meltdowns came just minutes before arriving home on the first trip and on the return she was fussy in the car seat and had a meltdown when they were unpacking the car. So the meltdowns occurred when it was finally time to relax after the travel day. After finally falling asleep at night she woke up fine the next day, happy and back to normal.

Has your child done fine during the travel day but been upset after the flight? What did you think was the cause in your case?

Here was my reply:

I am an expert only in my own experience, not a medical professional, but in my opinion she was experiencing a sensory meltdown. This is not due to social anxiety for her, but due to over-stimulation from the travel day. It’s not something to be overly concerned about, and it is likely to change or be different for her every time you travel and at every different age and stage for her.

The biggest way you can help is to help her regulate her sensory input. The main way to help anyone regulate sensory input is by adding something called “proprioceptive input” aka “heavy work”. Here are some ideas for ways to do this for a six month old:

-Joint Compression: massage arms and legs with gentle squeezing. 

-Body pressure: When your baby is in her stroller, car seat, or lying on her back, take your hand and press gently on her chest, while slowly jiggling her. The pressure is soothing.

-Tight hugs.

-Wrap tightly in blanket and hug. Rock if she tolerates it.

-Let her squeeze or squish putty or Play-Doh if she won’t eat it. 🙂

-Crawling: If there is an opportunity in your travel day to let her crawl or climb (maybe a kid’s area in the airport?).

If you do these activities throughout the travel day, it will help her maintain a balance and should help prevent the meltdowns.

I am not implying that your daughter has sensory processing disorder, as my daughter does. Every child as they are developing has sensory challenges as their neurological system matures. As you meet the needs that these challenges present, your child can develop typically with less struggle.

It doesn’t sound to me like her ears were an issue.

Another thing you can try is Hyland’s Infant Calming Tablets. They are homeopathic tablets used to:  “temporarily relieve the symptoms of occasional sleeplessness, fussiness, agitation, irritability, and restless sleep; unpredictable, irregular sleep; waking at night; crying; inconsolable behavior”. (Quoted from the company’s website.) They are approved for ages 6mo. and up. I used these for my kids. They didn’t help my oldest much but did seem to help my now 3 year old. As they have no side effects or drug interactions, they are worth a try in my opinion.

 

What do you think? Would you agree with my guess as to what was going on? Have you had a similar experience with your child? What other words of advice would you give to this father seeking answers? Do you have a question to ask? I’d like to start a series of “passenger questions” and would love to answer your questions there! Comment below or send me an email.

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15 Simple Packing Tips, Tools, Hacks

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Simple Packing Tips

I’ve been on over 130 flights with my kid/s plus a handful of road trips, so I’ve learned lots of packing tips, tools, and hacks.  For me, packing wisely is one of the keys to enjoying your family travel. But it can be overwhelming! Here are some simple packing tips I use when I travel with my family:

5 Simple Packing Tips

1. Use a Reasonable Suitcase
simple packing tips

When I travel as a flight attendant, I use a rolling suitcase. When I travel with my kids, I switch to a rolling duffel bag. I use a 26” rolling duffel bag. Anything bigger makes it difficult to remain within airlines’ weight restrictions. Paying for overweight luggage usually costs more than checking an additional bag, so it’s not worth going over on weight. Right now I’m using a 26″ Olympia Rolling Duffel Bag, which I like for it’s roomy interior and the 8 pockets. I pack all of my things plus both of the kids’ things in this bag. (My husband packs and brings his own bag when he travels with us.)

*BONUS TIP: When buying luggage, consider getting the ugliest or most unusual color so your bag is easily identifies and not confused with other passenger’s luggage. We are currently using a bright pink and a rust orange bag. My favorite was bright yellow. 

2. Create a List

As much as I’ve packed for my family, you would think I could remember everything I need without checking a list. Much of the time I do pack without a list, but I inevitably leave something out. By writing down what I need to pack, especially the items I will be adding last minute, I am sure to pack the most important things.

3. Create a Travel Emergency Kit

I like to keep standard first aid and medicines in a travel kit that always stays in my travel bag. I’ve also started packing an emergency bag, containing at minimum a headlamp flashlight, air filtration masks, and a smoke hood. You can take a look at everything I pack in my own travel emergency bag here: What to Pack in a Travel Emergency Kit

4. Set All Clothes Out to Review

I always set all of my clothes and the kids clothes out on the bed before putting them in the suitcase. Then I reduce what I have set out. Seeing all the clothes at one glance makes it easier to determine what we will really need.

5. Use Amazon Prime

If you are visiting an area in the US for at least one week, it may be much easier to order some things and have them shipped. If you are an Amazon Prime member, most items have free 2-day shipping. Diapers, formula, sunscreen, and snack foods are just a few of the items that might be better to have shipped than to pack.

5 Simple Packing Tools

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1. Carabiner

simple packing tips
I like to have one carabiner clipped to my backpack strap. I use it to hook on my preschooler’s C.A.R.E.S. Harness and Backpack Harness when we are not using them.

2. Chums Stowaway Equipment Strap

simple packing tips
I just bought these great straps but haven’t had the opportunity to use them yet. My kids like to travel with their own plush blanket, so I’m planning to use this equipment strap to tie up the blankets. I can then attach them to my backpack when getting on and off of the plane. I can imagine many ways these straps could come in handy. You could use one to hook a bag to your larger checked bag to make it easier to get to and from the car. What other ways would you use this?

3. Refillable Containers

simple packing tips
I very rarely pack full size toiletries, but I hate spending the money for prepackaged travel-sized items! I love this set of refillable containers. The small tubs are perfect for facial cleanser and lotion. The larger bottles hold up to 2 weeks worth of shampoo and conditioner. I love how the set also comes with a spray bottle. I use this for my face toner. These lids have never leaked on me. I have bought many, many travel containers over the past 16+ years of flying, and these are the only ones I use now.

4. Travel Size Woolite

simple packing tips
Even if you’re staying somewhere that has laundry facilities, it is often useful to be able to wash a few things in the sink. Here is a post on why I recommend you always pack travel size Woolite if you are visiting a Disney Park. While there are other detergents you could use, I have found that Woolite works best for sink washing because it doesn’t suds up too much and it easily rinses clean.

5. Packing Cubes
simple packing tips

I go back and forth on my use of packing cubes. If you have a child ages newborn-3 years old, the cubes are really great. I use one large cube for all of my baby’s outfits. As the child gets bigger, the clothes get bigger, and you have to use several cubes for each child. Cube packing can really help keep things organized, though. Right now I use a small cube for each person’s socks and underwear, and large cubes for swimwear (all family members together). Then I pack our other clothes outside of the cubes. Experiment with this, but I think you will really enjoy the organization that cube packing can give. I do think that packing cubes work better when you are using a rolling duffle bag vs. a standard rolling suitcase.

5 Simple Packing Hacks

1. DIY Luggage Tag

One of the easiest ways to make a durable luggage tag uses just two things: clear packing tape and one of your business cards. Cut a long piece of packing tape and run it through the large strap on your bag. Double the tape over, stopping near the end to add your business card. Laminate the card using the packing tape and then cut off the excess tape. I’ll try to make a video soon to show how to do this.

2. Duct Tape

This tip comes from retired Flight Attendant and Author, Dixie Howell. She puts a few strips of Duct Tape on her suitcase. The ways duct tape can come in handy are endless! It can really save the day if your luggage tears, a zipper breaks, or a shoe falls apart. Bringing an entire roll of duct tape would add too much weight to your bag, but a few strips can be used when needed and don’t add much weight.

3. Multi-Purpose Items

Pack items that have more than one use in order to save space. Here are a few things that we use in multiple ways:

  • Aquaphor: Use for diaper rash, dry hands, to avoid blisters.
  • 2-in-1 Body Wash, Shampoo: Aquaphor is my favorite for kids.  *Use the travel-sized refillable containers listed above in this post.
  • African Black Soap: Shampoo and Face Wash — I have just recently tried Savvy Boheme’s African Black Soap and it is really great! I can use it for shampoo even with my thick hair (it’s so thick it’s twice the thickness of an “average” head of hair). I’ll be posting a full review soon, but this soap would be great for travel for multiple purposes.
  • Gallon Size Ziploc Bags: Use to pack outfits, keep clothes dry, contain soiled clothes, and for your child’s busy bag items.

4. Pack Sunglasses/Swim Goggles in Shoes

A great way to protect your sunglasses and swim goggles is to pack them inside a sock then inside your shoes.

5. Seat Pocket Trash Liner

simple packing tips

I like to reuse plastic shopping bags as trash bags on the plane. I always pack several in my backpack carry on. On many planes, the seat pocket can stretch out a bit, and these plastic shopping bags fit nicely to create a trash liner. fold the side of the bag over the magazines and the front of the seat pocket and you then have a place to stash trash as you collect it throughout the flight.

*Flight Attendant Tip: Please do not use seat pockets for trash without a bag liner. First, it’s a good way to spread germs. Second, cabin cleaners are usually rushing through the plane, with only a few minutes to clean the entire cabin. They are not often able to look into each seat pocket and often trash gets left behind. I’m sure it’s gross to you when you discover trash in your seat pocket. So try to not be the one who leaves trash there. And definitely never put a used diaper in the seat pockets. Diapers need to go in a bag (you can use an airsickness bag if you didn’t bring anything, I use pre-cut Diaper Genie bags myself) and then in the lavatory trash can. Don’t hand diapers to the flight attendants. The galley is no place for a soiled diaper!

What do you think of these simple packing tips, tools, and hacks? Is there one of these ideas that you want to try? I’d love to hear what works for you when you pack for your next trip. Share in the comments below or send us pictures on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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Breastfeeding on a Plane

breastfeeding on a plane

Tips for Breastfeeding on a Plane

Breastfeeding on a plane comes with some challenges. Some babies (mine) are overstimulated and won’t pay attention long enough to nurse. Some babies want to latch on for the entire flight. Mothers might be nervous that other passengers will stare or complain. You may be so squished in small seats that you don’t have room to nurse in your baby’s preferred position. Whatever worries you may have about breastfeeding on a plane, there are solutions! Today I’ll share with you a few tips for breastfeeding on your next flight.

When my daughter Ella was an infant, she would not nurse in public at all. She is so hyper-aware that every movement, every sound, every light caught her attention and would pull her away from nursing. Even covering her head didn’t help. She earned elite status on the airline when she was only ten months old, so you know there were lots of flights where we had to adapt. Luckily most children are far more interested in nursing than she was. I also supplemented formula with her, so I would pack formula sticks and water bottles for the flight. I pumped or nursed right before the flight either at home or in the airport bathrooms (I know, gross, right? I am happy to see nursing stations becoming a thing. There is a Nursing Room Locator App, where you can discover the location of airport nursing rooms.) Then if my husband was traveling with me I would pump during the flight, or if he wasn’t with me then I just went through the flight and pumped as soon as we got to our arrival airport. I had to be flexible with this. Once it meant pumping while sitting on the floor in the corner of first class. Once it meant pumping on the two hour long taxi ride home.  Click here to read my tips and tricks for Traveling with the Breast Pump..

Hopefully your baby is more flexible than Ella was. Hopefully all you are worrying about is the mechanics of nursing on the plane. These are some things that I found helpful:

Wardrobe

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My favorite things to wear while nursing allow for comfort, flexibility, and ease of use. This is what I used:

Nursing Tank

breastfeeding on a plane
Be sure to get the long tanks so that they don’t ride up on your waist.

Shawl Sweater

breastfeeding on a plane
I love wearing a shawl sweater while nursing. If your baby likes to be covered for nursing, you can take the bottom tip of the sweater and use it as a light covering. If your baby doesn’t like to be covered, please do not feel any social pressure to cover! As long as you’re not walking around the aircraft with your boobs out, you are fine. Take care of your baby and don’t be concerned with what others think. What I like about using a shawl sweater/nursing tank combo is, if you do want to be more discreet without covering your baby’s head, you can take the corner of the shawl which is opposite the baby, and tuck that into the tank strap. This will give you coverage across your chest without interfering with your baby.

Since we’re talking about wardrobe, I want to remind you to always pack a complete change of clothes, not just for the baby, but for you as well. You never know when a diaper blowout, vomiting (not just spit up), or major spills might happen. Always be prepared. Read more about why here: Travel Tip: Always Pack Spare Clothes (for Everyone).

Nursing Pillow or Not?
breastfeeding on a plane

When your baby is teeny-tiny, you might find it helps to use a nursing pillow. Many new mothers get so used to using this that they go ahead and bring it on their flight. Do what you need to do, but I would personally not recommend bringing a nursing pillow. In most cases the seat you are in doesn’t really have room to use your nursing pillow without intruding on your seat mate’s personal space. Most of the time the armrests are in a good position to rest your elbow as you hold your baby. I would just bring a small baby blanket (which you should be packing anyway, for your baby when it gets cold) to fold under my elbow for a cushion. If you really want to bring a nursing pillow, don’t bring the full size one. This travel nursing pillow might work better for you:

How to Handle Comments

To be honest with you, in spite of news reports like this one emphasizing intolerant passengers and crew, in my experience (16 years as a flight attendant), it is extremely rare to get a passenger complaint about a mother breastfeeding on a plane. If passengers near you says anything, our mama bear instinct is likely to rear up, understandably so. But a conflict on the airplane is never a good thing. If it’s possible to ignore the person, then try to. If not, ask the flight attendants to intervene. If a flight attendant happens to be the one with the issue (again, not something you need to have anxiety over—I believe the stories about this happening are potentially the only times they have happened, fewer than ten out of billions of flights), try to see where they are coming from. If they are making an unreasonable request, such as asking you to nurse in the lavatory, calmly ask if the FAA or airline requires that. Try to gently help them see that they are being unreasonable. But if you are completely exposed, midriff, breast, and all, for an extended amount of time, it is understandable if someone asks you to cover yourself. As long as they are not asking for you to cover the baby. A latched baby on exposed breast, however, is no problem. We just don’t want the entire breast out while baby is sound asleep on the other side. That’s reasonable, right? Just last month I had a passenger who was a new mother. Her baby nursed then fell asleep on her mother’s breast, so she remained uncovered but with the baby on her chest. No one batted an eye.  If anyone had a problem with it, they didn’t say anything.

Do what works for you

Does your baby like to be covered when nursing? Cover your baby. Does your child hate being covered? Don’t cover your baby. Are you really modest? Wear a nursing tank and shawl sweater so you can feel comfortable. Does your baby pop on and off when breastfeeding? Don’t sweat it. The most important thing when you are feeding your baby is your baby. Don’t worry about what other people think or say. Realize that the people who typically cast judgment about breastfeeding will likely cast judgment regardless of how you are nursing. Once I was shopping in Target with my infant (who was a very fussy baby with colic and reflux), and he needed to nurse. I didn’t have time to sit, so with the help of a baby carrier, I nursed him as a pushed the cart. I actually had him completely covered, head and all, with a nursing cover. You had to really look to even see that I had an infant attached to me. Still I got hateful stares from an older man passing by. I cannot fathom why he would have a problem with my nursing on the go, but apparently he did. Whatever. Don’t let people like that affect your inner peace.

breastfeeding on a plane

Do you have public nursing tips to share? Or a story about breastfeeding on a plane? I’d love to hear your comments below!

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