Tips on Traveling with an Infant

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disclaimer: I was provided the Dockatot Grand and Travel Bag in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Wondering how to travel with a baby? It doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. I would encourage any family wanting to travel to definitely do so, and to start young. We took Leo on our first family (car) trip up north at 3 weeks, first international trip to Mexico at 8 weeks, and to Nashville at 6 months.

Many of our friends and coworkers couldn’t believe we weren’t going to curb our travel once we became parents, but it is truly a passion of ours and we never want to stop exploring or going on adventures together. We want to show Leo the world!

Here’s a few tips and pieces of information for anyone traveling with an infant.

1. Getting a Passport
Infant/Child passports are good for 5 years. Birth certificates are made available to the State within 3 weeks of birth. Both parents will need to be present when applying for a passport, and it must be done in person. You can check online using your zip code to see what office is closest to you. Normal processing time is 4-6 weeks. We expedited ours for an additional $60, and it arrived in about 10 days.
*Try to print a picture beforehand. The size is 2×3, which is NOT the same as “wallet size.” Learned that one the hard way…*

2.Planning Flight Travel
An infant up to 2 years of age can be considered a “lap child/child in arms” and you do not need to purchase an additional ticket for them. After purchasing an (international) ticket for yourself, contact your travel agent or the airline and let them know about your child and they will add them to the flight. For international flights, you will need to pay the international fee and taxes for the baby, even if they are considered a lap child. (For Mexico, this was about $18 each way.) For domestic travel, the check-in counter can add them to your flight ticket and it will print with your boarding pass. *Be sure to bring the baby’s passport for international travel and either passport or birth certificate for domestic travel.*

When you check-in for your flight, ask the airline if the flight is full. If it is not, you will be able to bring your carseat on the flight with you (placed rear-facing, in a window seat.) Make sure you have the FAA sticker that approves it for flight. Some flight attendants may ask to verify.

3. Navigating the Airport
Bring your stroller and car seat for FREE! Both these items, as well as your pump, and diaper bag all qualify as “courtesy items” and will not be charged as a carry-on or checked item. If you are traveling with breast milk, this is considered “liquid medication” and does not have to be stored in 3oz sizes-it can be more. Pack in a cooler with ice and go through security-they’ll likely scan it with a laser to make sure its just milk.

When we’re traveling with Leo, we keep him in his stroller until we get to the gate. We also bring our Ergo360 for transporting him-this is handy walking through the airport if he wants to be held, or if the flight is full and we aren’t able to bring our carseat on.
When you get to the gate agent, ask for the tags that say “gate check” Put your stroller (and carseat if the flight is full) in your gate check bags, and put the gate check tag on each bag. This way, the ground crew will bring your stroller and carseat back up to the ramp as you deplane.

My biggest tip in-flght would be to feed your baby at take-off and landing. This will help their sensitive ears adjust to the rapidly changing pressure in the cabin. Other than that, kids will be kids and you can only plan and pray so much that it will go well. You could try introducing a new toy, packing snacks, or trying to plan your flight during nap time. We’ve been very fortunate that Leo has been a happy, sleepy, curious traveler so far.

Don’t leave home without….
Dockatot
For those that follow my blog or instagram, you know how much I LOVE our Dockatot! This is the #1 thing I recommend to all expecting parents. We bring it with us everywhere. Its great for tummy time, play time (look how cute the new play bar is!), sleepy time, and all the times in between. Who wouldn’t want to travel with their own bed? Its comfy and familiar. The geniuses at Dockatot just came out with a travel bag that makes it so easy. The travel bag is available in both the Deluxe Size (perfect as a carry-on) or the Grand Size (needs to be checked.) I pack all of Leo’s diapers, clothes, and necessities for the week in the bag as well.
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Have any questions on the Dockatot, what to pack, or traveling with a baby? I’d love to help! email: emeraldandoakblog@gmail.com

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On Maternity Leave

I thought I’d accomplish more on maternity leave these past 10 weeks. I had high hopes of reading the books I’ve had on my list for months. I wanted to brush up on Greek and Roman mythology, a topic I haven’t delved into since high school Latin, but know would definitely come in handy during Jeopardy. I wanted to finally master calligraphy, which can be really tough and requires extra practice for a lefty like me. I wanted to learn about art history, specifically architectural and the building of Grand Rapids. I thought I’d cook more, and would have time to put together cute outfits. I thought I’d finally put pen to paper on no less than 25 blogs I’ve been meaning to write, and maybe even finally catalog all of our photos.

In reality, I kept renewing the same titles from the library until I ran out of renewals and had to return them.
I never practiced calligraphy or learned more about art and architectural history.
When we watch Jeopardy, I’m still just guessing.
We had take out often and most days my leggings and sweaters were covered in spit.
Those 25 blogs are still sitting in the draft folder.

And none of it matters. I wouldn’t trade the days of can’t-put-him-down cuddles, cluster feeds, and sleepless nights for any of the things on my wish list. I’ve learned to slow down my life these past few months and really truly cherish being in the moment. On the hard days, I’d remind myself: he’ll never be this little again, and I’ll never have this time again. I know the time, attention, affection, and love I’ve given my son are exactly what we both needed.

Today is my last day home with Leo. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to work full-time and Leo will go to daycare full-time. This is our new normal. We feel good great about the in-home daycare where he’ll be spending his days while we’re working. But transition doesn’t come without its challenges.

I’m excited to work, I love my job, and it’s the best decision for our family at this point in time. But leaving him will be hard and guilt comes easily.

We’ll walk into the house, go over the routine, meet his new friends and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to the highway before tearing up in my car. It’s hard to imagine not spending my days with him and missing out on some of his first moments. I’m anxious about how he’ll behave for others, if he’ll take the bottle from someone he’s just met, if he’ll get enough attention along with the other children, if he’ll get sick or hurt, and the list goes on. Even when you know you’re making the best decision for your family, it isn’t always easy.

When I was pregnant, someone voiced their opinion that “it would be hard to be a good mom and not stay at home.” Although I still can’t comprehend why some people feel their choice of lifestyle is the only option, I do know this: I am a damn good mom. And that’s not going to change whether I’m working or not.

There are undeniably awesome things that can come out of working. He’ll be immersed in another culture through daycare, and will hear other languages. He will meet friends and learn to play. He’ll be on a routine and know what to expect in his day. There are many things he’ll learn by seeing his mom work as well: a strong role model for work ethic, providing for a family, and the importance of education, commitment, and hard work. By working now, Cody and I hope to achieve flexibility in the future.

Family schedules and work commitments can vary widely from part time or full time work, one parent staying home exclusively, one or both parents working from home, etc. I’m sure there are pros and cons to each option, even when you know you’re making the best decision for your family.

So tomorrow it is.
And every day after that, at least for now.
Cheers to the moms that make it look easy, who manage and balance and shuffle and compromise.

And in case you need to hear it today too, whether you stay at home or work part-time or full time:

You’re a damn good mom.
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Mexico

Cody, Leo, and I just got back from our first international family trip! I’m still on maternity leave and we decided to make the best use of the time and take a trip now during the cold winter months. Leo absolutely loved being outside and was such a great traveler.

One of the visions for our family is to travel as much as possible and we want to share those experiences and sense of adventure with Leo, even at two months old.

We expedited a passport for him and booked a long weekend to Puerto Vallarta for an all-inclusive. (I promised Cody a relaxing, all-inclusive vacation after traipsing all over Europe for a few weeks last year.) It was great to sit in the sun, swim up to the bar, get massages on the beach, and not have to make any decisions. This was an easy first vacation with an infant as well because we had everything we needed at the family-friendly resort.

We were a little nervous about his first flight, but he was amazing! Leo fed at take-off and landing to help his ears adjust to the pressure, and during flight, slept in his carseat.

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Milestone Cards

disclaimer: I was provided The Original Milestone Cards in exchange for review. All opinions are solely mine.

Time is already flying as a mom, just like everyone said it would! I can hardly believe Leo is already 7 weeks old. He’s got his passport, shots, and has grown out of his newborn clothes already. It was so sad to pack up all those cute onesies and newborn outfits so soon!
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I’d recommend a baby book to all parents! I want to remember all these cute moments and preserve them in a memory book for Leo to look back on as he is older. Milestone Baby is an excellent supplement to your baby book! These cute cards are an easy, cute, and fun way to photograph, sign, and celebrate the big moments for your little one. They include age cards like “Today, I am 2 weeks old” all the way to months and one year birthday. I think a cute idea is to sit your little one in the same chair next to a card each month and take a photograph. In the same chair or position each month, you can really start to see their growth over time!
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There are also really cute cards to celebrate all the firsts like first tooth, crawling, first time sleeping through the night (still waiting for that one…)

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You can sign and date the card and insert it into your baby book as a keepsake. Milestone Baby even has some FREE printables on their site to celebrate all the first holidays!

These cards would make an excellent baby shower gift or gift to take a new mom when you’re visiting.

How do you celebrate and commemorate all your little one’s special moments? I’d love to hear what traditions you’re starting for your family!

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Covered Goods GIVEAWAY!

disclaimer: I was provided a Covered Goods in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% mine. This post includes affiliate links.

It can be so overwhelming registering for your baby since there are numerous brands for each item and so many different things needed! My advice would be to do your research on the bigger, more expensive items you’re hoping will last several years and/or kids- strollers, car seats, etc. and go with your personal style preference on the other items.

I’m quickly learning in these first weeks of being a mom what my go-to items are. My most used and favorite items are those that have multiple uses. I was so excited when Covered Goods sent me their 4 in 1 nursing cover!

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It works like this:
1. Nursing Cover
breathable fabric that’s lightweight means that it makes for a great nursing cover when I’m in public. Last week, we were shopping in Nordstrom when Leo needed to feed. It was so easy to breastfeed without hassle.

2. Infinity Scarf
There are so many cute patterns of Covered Goods, and I love the black and white stripes that match my diaper bag. This scarf is also coming in handy to wear in our cold Michigan winter right now.
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3. Carseat Cover
This is by far the best and most useful! When I’m headed out the door, the cover goes over Leo’s carseat and helps protect from the wind, sun, and snow, and rain outside. Even better, Leo feels very comforted and safe in there and almost always falls asleep! I’ll leave the cover on him when he’s in the stroller in public, and he’ll stay asleep.

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4. Shopping Cart Cover
This one will come in handy when Leo is a little older. The cover stretches over the seat part and around the shopping cart for a comfortable and clean shopping experience with toddlers.

I’ve teamed up with Covered Goods for a GIVEAWAY! To enter, leave a comment on this post! Head over to my instagram (@emeraldandoakblog) for an additional entry! Contest open through Sunday, January 15th!

To enter:
1. Leave a comment on this blog post
*For additional entry, like my instagram post

You can check out all of the stylish Covered Goods prints on their website.

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Leo Emerson: newborn photoshoot

A few weeks after Leo was born, my friend Laura (who also did our maternity photos) came over to our house for a newborn photo shoot. While my goal was to try to capture some of those sweet, naked, sleeping newborn photos, Leo was wide awake! I’m so glad too, because she was able to take some very precious photos of Leo’s wide eyes.

It was so special doing our first family photoshoot and I’m excited for many more over the years with my boys.
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Leo Emerson – 11.30.16 – 8 lbs 5 oz – 21.5 in

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Dock a Tot

dockatot6disclaimer: I was provided a Dockatot deluxe in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% my own.

For those who follow me on Instagram (@emeraldandoakblog), you’ve likely seen me posting photos of a very playful or peacefully sleeping Leo in his dockatot. This thing is a lifesaver!

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I first learned about the Dockatot on Instagram but was hesitant about its necessity while already owning a pack and play, rock and play, and boppy lounger. I figured we could easily make do with Leo napping in the pack and play and rock and play until he was ready for his crib. I was completely wrong in this assumption! Besides diapers and wipes, the Dockatot is our most used and beloved baby product! It is the perfect lounger, napper, and co-sleeper. The Dockatot was designed in Sweden and handmade in Europe, and is now becoming very popular in the States.

The Dockatot stays downstairs with me during the daytime and is the perfect place for Leo to lounge, play, and sleep while I’m doing other things. The fit makes him feel snug and comforted, and is much safer than having him sleep elsewhere. We bring the dockatot upstairs for bedtime, and if Leo is getting really fussy during the night in his rock and play or pack and play next to our bed, I’ll move him into the dockatot and into our bed between us. The shape and fit is perfect for co-sleeping and we can fall asleep knowing that he is safe.
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Even better, the dockatot is super lightweight, breathable, and easy to transport anywhere, much easier than hauling and setting up a pack and play. We put this to the test last weekend when we went up north for a weekend getaway as well as to a New Year’s Eve party. We are headed on our first international family vacation in January, and I know the dockatot is going to be coming with us. Plus, they have a stylish carrier for it that can be used as a carry-on!
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Besides the dreamweaver pattern I have, there are more patterns, covers, and a classic white available on the website. It is important to note, there are two sizes of the Dockatot available, the Deluxe pictured (best for newborns-8 months) and the Grand (up to 3 years!) You may be tempted to purchase the Grand so that your baby can grow into it and you can use it longer, but I would advise against it! The Grand is much too big for your newborn. Our plan is to invest in the Grand once Leo outgrows the Deluxe and then use our Deluxe for his baby sister or brother in the future. Plus, the Grand will be perfect for the transition from his crib to toddler bed.

The quality is fantastic-these will definitely last for years to come and be coming with us when we’re away from home!
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You can purchase the Dockatot here !

Do you own the Dockatot? I’d love to hear what you think! If there are other baby gear items you’d recommend for new parents, please let me know! I’d love to check them out.

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