Hiking with a baby or a toddler

Hiking with a baby or a toddler

This summer hiking became our new favorite family activity. Hiking with a baby or toddler offers a great alternative way of training. Plus you get to spend time with your family and enjoy the great outdoors. So here are my top tips for hiking with a baby or toddler.

Get a good baby carrier

When our son was quite young we would carry him in a normal baby carrier or baby wrap. However this was only a solution until he wanted a bit more view. We were given a used baby backpack carrier, which can be used when they are around 9 months old and can sit fairly stable. However we didn’t like the model and looked for a better one. Because this is key for making hiking with a baby or toddler fun and comfortable.

What to look for in a hiking carrier

  • Adjustable shoulder and hip straps for the carrying adult: of course you want to adjust the backpack to the personal size of your back. This helps to make carrying comfortable and to avoid back pain.
  • 5 point safety harness for the child: you want your child to be safe, even when it moves around or falls asleep
  • Adjustable seat for the child: The carrier should be able to accomodate a growing child
  • Foot rests: so your child’s feet don’t get numb after a while
  • Soft pillow: at one point your child will fall asleep. This will make them sleep even more comfortably
  • Sun and rain cover: some baby hiking carriers offer sun covers. As your child’s skin is still very delicate, I would highly recommend it. In addition, I always carry a rain cover because the weather is sometimes unpredictable in the mountains.
  • Enough pockets for your stuff like diapers, changing mat, food, drinks, toys…

We got a Deuter Kid Comfort Active Baby Carrier, with extra pillow, sun roof and rain cover. And we are very happy with it because it offers great value for money. But there are also other brands we looked at, like these carriers by Thule, Vaude or Osprey.

hiking with a baby

Take enough breaks

In the beginning we were really ambitious with our hiking goals. We would try to hike long routes with lots of vertical ascent. But this got more and more difficult the older our son got, and the more active and mobile he became. Because he also wanted to explore and walk himself. So we now plan our routes in a way that we can take enough breaks and have lots of activities for him.

We usually look out for:

  • Restaurants with children’s playgrounds
  • Flat open spaces and lawns where he can run around freely
  • Everything with animals like cows or goats. (children are usually fascinated by animals)
  • Small streams or ponds where he can play in the water on a hot day

Places we avoid:

  • Fancy viewpoints (because this usally means steep surroundings)
  • Places with lots of people (just harder for him to run around freely)
  • Routes that are completely in the sun

Hiking with a baby

Bring enough snacks

And with enough I mean a lot of snacks. Hiking will make you hungry because the extra weight on your back will burn a lot of calories. And snacks also can distract your child for while when you can’t take an immediate break. I know that as parents we are told not to comfort our kids with food, but sometimes it just works wonders when hiking with a baby or toddler. And there are a lot of healthy snacks that you can bring along and feed your child while in the carrier without making a huge mess.

My favorite hiking snacks are.

  • Rice or corn crispies
  • Bell peppers cut in into stripes
  • Thin italian sausages (not so healthy, but super yummy)
  • Apple slices

 

Do you have more tips for hiking with your kids? Let me know in the comments!

My first year as a mom – one year postpartum update

My first year as a mom – one year postpartum update

It has now nearly been one year since I gave birth to my little baby boy. And needless to say, the first year as a mom has been very exhausting, very exciting, and very different from what I’ve imagined it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and learned a lot along the way. So here are the things I learned in my first year as a mom. And the things I wished someone had told me earlier. And my thoughts on mom life in general. Enjoy my one-year postpartum update!

My life has changed a lot, and that’s okay

One thing that I definitely didn’t imagine was that my life and lifestyle as a mom would be so different postpartum. Yes, I knew that with a baby it wouldn’t be so easy to do the things we did before. Like going out, meeting friends, traveling or running races like before. But it actually now is REALLY different. Of course, all these things are still possible with a baby, but so much more complicated.

What is really different now is that we plan everything around him. Going to a cafe or restaurant? We look for the ones with diaper changing facilities. Sleeping in on a Sunday? Probably not happening, and staying up late to watch Netflix isn’t a good idea either. We want to travel or see friends? We only drive around his nap times so he can sleep in the car. Flying away? We pick the airline with the best infant luggage policy. (For more tips on traveling with a baby check out this blogpost)

But guess what, I don’t mind this change at all. Because the new activities are just as much fun as the old ones. Playing peekaboo in the living room. Playing on the grass or in the sand or in the water. Tickle him and make him laugh. Kids are amazing in teaching us to appreciate the little things. And these little things now give me way more joy than all the other big activities before.

We love breastfeeding and don’t want to stop

From the beginning I wanted to breastfeed my child, even though I knew it might be hard. I read all the books, got all the tools and asked for a lot of advice. (Btw: you can find my favorite products fo breastfeeding and pumping here.) And to my surprise, breastfeeding was really effortless and easy. Yes the first few weeks were hard and painful. But after that it worked really well. The only downside however was that Lucian doesn’t like bottles and pacifiers, so giving him pumped breastmilk in a bottle was rnearly impossible.

So in my first year as a mom I nursed baby Lucian everywhere, in my office, on the train and tube, in restaurants. But my favourite breastfeeding moment was by far Chicago Marathon, where my fiancé met me with the baby at the half way mark for a quick pit stop. At around 5 months we started giving him pureed foods, but I still nurse him a few times a day. I do this because breastfeeding has so many benefits, like supporting the immune system. And this was definitely the case because Baby Lucian was only sick once in the past year. So, I want to at least keep doing it until he enters nursery. Because he needs this immune boost when he contracts all the germs that young kids usually gets there.

But the main reason why I want to continue breastfeeding is simply because we both love it. It gives us some relax time during a stressful day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I can cuddle him, talk to him, feel him. It is special bonding time for both of us, and I want to keep that as long as possible.

Losing weight in the first year postpartum

Another benefit of breastfeeding is that it burns an extra 500 kcal per day. And every runner like me knows: 500kcal a day is a lot. For me it worked so well, that I did not worry about losing my baby fat at all. My main goal was to fit into my favourite jeans again at around 7 months postpartum. I reached that in just 3 months, mainly by breastfeeding. I am now 5 kg below my pre pregnancy weight, and even though I am eating A LOT I am not gaining any weight. To my surprise I even had to buy new clothes because the old ones were too big. But losing weight and being slim is not only good…

My back hurts

… being slim might look like a great goal to achieve, but there is one down side: slim doesn’t mean fit and strong. And I am definitely not fit and strong as I used to be. I don’t take the time to train as I did before, and I can definitely feel it. The baby is getting heavier and heavier, and with that extra weight it gets harder to lift him up and carry him around. My back hurts a lot because of lost muscle mass, bad posture and not enough core strength. The solution is of course solid strength training, that I need to be more consistent about.

So, to all new Moms and Dads out there: do your strength training exercises regularly, even though the baby is not so heavy yet. Your body will thank you.

The baby is more important than time for myself

I think every Mom knows this feeling: we feel bad if we want time for ourselves. And I am definitely the same. My baby cries sometimes when I leave him with a babysitter, and my heart cries as well. But I do see the need for some me-time. Self-care by spending time with yourself is really important, even for moms. So, I tried to find ways where I can do things together with my baby, like running with a running stroller or hiking with a baby carrier in the great outdoors. It is the best of both worlds. And if this doesn’t work out, I am very lucky to have very loving grandparents.

My pelvic floor will never be the same

Yes, this was one thing that I imagined really different in my first year pas a mom. Even though I knew that the pelvic floor is stretched hard during the birthing process, and that a pelvic floor postpartum rehab is really important afterwards, I imagined it to be easier. Fact is that I still need to do my rehab exercises regularly one year postpartum, so I don’t get any issues. Being lazy and pausing for too long will cause even more problems. So I now exercise regularly using my Elvie trainer device, which is really expensive. But for me it was worth every Euro.

Sleep deprivation and sleep training

I can easily count the nights in my first year as a mom when I got 8 hours of sleep in a row: zero! At one year old my son still wakes up at least once a night. Sometimes he wakes up more often, especially when he is teething. And sometimes he wakes up early in the morning, and I can’t go back to sleep.

So I’ve accumulated lots of sleepless hours in my fist year as a mom. And trust me, it was not fun. I have times when I am really exhausted, and when I am having real breakdowns because of a lack of sleep. We have considered sleep training more than once, and even have tried a gentle version a few times. Did it help? I honestly don’t know. His sleep was getting better over time, but this could also be his age.

But I do know is that it is perfectly normal. Probably all new parents are going through this. And I know that things will change one day. Until then I try to adapt to him and just go to bed earlier.

New job opening: Chief Entertainment Officer

One thing I didn’t imagine for my first year as a mom was that the baby would need constant entertainment. I was really naive and thought he would be sleeping all the time. And when he was not sleeping, that he would be eating.

Reality was really different. Already at 3 months he clearly wanted to be carried around and enjoy a good view. And now he wants to switch constantly between being carried and crawling on the floor. He can play with his toys, but he gets bored of them quite soon. So we get creative in finding new toys and new ways to entertain him: the remote control, a small calculator, tupper ware, kitchen utensils, cardboard boxes, post its on a glass door…

My fiancé is really good at keeping him entertained. So, I promoted him to CEO: chief entertainment officer.

I am such a proud Mom!

One thing that has definitely changed in my first year as a mom are the pictures on my camera. We take pictures of every milestone that our son hits and we celebrate it heavily. The first time rolling over, the first time sitting up or standing up, the first time crawling, his first tooth etc. And we are soooooo incredibly proud of everything he does. We think he is the cutest and smartest baby out there. One day he will be an Olympian or Nobel Prize winner.

I never understood my Mom when she cried at important moments in my life, like graduating from high school or university. But now I totally do, and I see myself crying as well when they will happen in Lucian’s life. It’s just a mom thing. We moms are always super proud of or kids and can’t wait to show the world.

Mompreneurlife is hard

Half a year before I got pregnant, I quit my old corporate job and started working in our family business. And while being an entrepreneur definitely has some advantages when it comes to flexible working hours, it has some disadvantages as well. For me it meant that I could not take my maternity leave as planned, especially not during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

In the beginning I brought him to the office with me. Be the older he got, the more he needed special attention and entertainment. I applied for a spot in the local nursery very soon, but there will only be open spots in December. And until then I have to either ask the grandparents or book a babysitter when I have important meetings.

But the worst thing is the current struggle of priorities. When I am at work, I feel bad because I am not spending time with my son. When I am playing with my son, I feel bad because there is still so much work to do. I usually am at work before he wakes up. But when I have to say good-bye to him and he cries it breaks my heart. I honestly don’t knowhow to resolve this inner conflict. But for now I am just trying to do my best in my both jobs as a Mom and entrepreneur.

We want more!

Something we decided the second day after our son was born, and we haven’t changed out mind in the first year as a parents: we want to have more kids. Yes they are a lot of work, and life as parents can be really exhausting. But they are sooo cute and adorable and they bring so much love and joy into our lives. So this is what our heart says: we are not done yet. Let’s see how many kids will make our family complete.

 

Life hacks for traveling with a baby

Life hacks for traveling with a baby

When my son Lucian was born, my fiancé and I were still in a long-distance relationship. While he was commuting between Austria and the UK on a weekly basis, we also agreed that I should come and visit him with the baby once a month. In addition, we were also traveling with the baby a lot to see friends and family. And we also flew to Chicago Marathon when the baby was only 4 months old. Let’s say baby Lucian was an experienced frequent traveller before he was even one year old.

But all this traveling with a baby didn’t come easy. It was actually the result of lots of planning, great baby travel gear and also some trial and error. (Lot of errors actually). So here I’ve compiled all our tips and tricks for traveling with a baby.

Plan your trip wisely to make traveling with a baby easy

As parents you probably know one thing by heart: with small children planning is key. This is especially valid when it comes to traveling with a baby. So here are the most important things to consider:

  • What place am I travelling to? Is it safe? Does my child need vaccines?
  • What is the weather going to be like? What clothes should I bring for the baby?
  • Do I need to bring diapers or can I shop them somewhere?
  • How will I cook baby food? Is the water potable?

Once you’ve thought about your trip and planned everything, I highly recommend making a packing list of all items you need. I now have one complete packing list of all items that I go through even though I might not pack some things in the end. Before having such a list, I was forgetting lots of small minor things that I then had to buy somewhere else. At the bottom of this article I’ve compiled a list of my favourite products to bring.

At what time of the day should you travel with a baby?

For short distance travel we now always schedule traveling around our baby’s nap times. This is especially useful when I am driving on my own for 2+ hours. But also, when flying we try to book flights that fall around his nap times. The worst times to travel are actually early mornings or late evenings, because it means disturbing his normal sleep schedule. And traveling with a cranky baby is definitely not fun.

For long distance flights however, it is just not possible to book them just around nap times. We there prefer to book them so most of the flight falls into the baby’s regular sleep time. This makes our life a bit easier.

Should I book a hotel room or an apartment?

I personally prefer to book apartments when traveling with a baby. The main reason is simply because preparing food and cleaning the baby’s things is so much easier if you have a fully equipped kitchen. However, not all of the apartments will have a baby crib. So we usually bring our own super light travel cot and travel high chair.

In case we have to stay at a hotel we let them know in advance that we will be coming with a baby. Most of the hotels will have baby beds available, and some also have kettles, diaper trash bags, and bottle warmers if you ask for it.

Another tip, no matter if you stay at a hotel or apartment is to bring a baby nest that fits into your suitcase. In your room you just move the bed towards the wall, and let the baby sleep in his nest between you and the wall. Therefore, they will can’t fall off the bed, and they still feel comfortable in their own nest with you being close.

Flying, driving or taking the train?

Sometimes you don’t have the option to choose between various means of transportation. But when you do, it is better to take the car, the plane or the train? Generally, each of them have advantages and disadvantages for traveling with a baby.

Traveling by car is the most flexible way of traveling with a baby. You can pack everything you need, which is usually a lot with a small baby. However small babies should not stay in a car seat for an extended time.  They need to take frequent breaks where they can move freely. But in case you are traveling by car you can always take as many breaks as you want.

Traveling by train with a baby is also a comfortable way to travel. You can walk around as much as you like. But one major disadvantage for me is that you can only bring limited stuff. If the train access is not step free, you have to lift everything on and off the carriage. And I also found the diaper changing facilities not always very convenient. Some trains have great facilities where the baby also can’t fall off the changing table. On other trains I found the changing tables not safe at all, especially when the train is moving fast.

Flying is definitely the best way to travel long distances. However, the process of going through security and boarding the plane is quite stressful with a baby. All parent’s nightmare is a crying baby due to pressure changes during take-off and landing. However, I found that this was not a problem for us at all as I generally nurse the baby during take-off and landing. What was a big problem however was that we had to change his diaper right when the fasten seat belt signs were on. And even then, the diaper changing facilities on planes are usually very small and not practical.

Tips for flying with a baby

After flying over 10 times with a baby less than 6 months old, most of the time on my own, I think I am now quite experienced. And here are my top tips:

When you book your flights check with airlines on what terms you can check in baby’s stroller or car seat. Some airlines like British Airlines let you check in two items for free, whereas others like Ryanair charge extra for every piece. Book flights during the middle of the day, where there are less travellers. Be there with lots of times in advance. I generally bring a light travel stroller, a car seat that fits onto the stroller, a baby-wrap or baby carrier, a big backpack. and If I need to check in extra luggage, I bring one big suitcase on wheels.

One of my key items for flying with a baby is a cabin-size stroller. It just makes everything so much easier because you don’t have to carry the baby all the time, you have somewhere to put him when he needs to sleep. Also, if you can bring it onto the plane it doesn’t get damaged as often compared to checking it in. Especially when traveling alone I always bring it.

I also have perfected my routine when flying with a baby. First, I check in the baby’s car seat in its travel cover. There is enough space under the travel cover that I can also put the foot muff or blanket inside it. After the flight I put the car seat onto the stroller so I don’t have to carry it.

Going through security with a baby

When going through security I find it very important to have everything ready so you don’t lose time with the baby. When I am alone, I first put on the baby into his travel stroller so I have my hands free. I then pack everything in to my boxes. The last thing I do is take the baby out of the stroller and onto my arms, fold the stroller with one hand and lift it up onto the conveyor belt. In case you can’t handle the stroller on your own there is usually someone there to help you, but it might be difficult to explain to strangers. I’ve also found security personnel really helpful when the baby was sleeping. Sometimes they just checked the stroller without waking him up.

In case you don’t want to bring a stroller, you can often borrow one for free at the airports. I also always bring a baby carrier or baby wrap, but during security I found them not helpful at all when traveling on my own. You will have to take them off during security, and I find it hard to put them off and on again while holding the baby. (Yes, I could give the baby to someone else and put on the baby carrier, but I don’t like the idea.) However, after security, once the baby is back in the stroller and I have packed everything up again, I put on the baby carrier or baby wrap to be prepared for boarding.

After security I generally try to find the diaper changing rooms and toilets first. Most of the time the disabled toilet will also have a diaper changing table. In some of the airports there are some bigger toilets especially for people with luggage where I can fit the stroller into the toilet. I then try find a quiet spot in between the boarding gate and the diaper changing facilities.

Boarding a plane with a baby

I generally try to be at the boarding gate some time in advance, to let the staff know that the baby and I are here. I ask them to have pre boarding (which they generally do for families with kids) and that they could let me know some minutes before so we can get ready. It once happened to me, that when they announced pre boarding, I was not ready in ten seconds, and then they let everyone else board. I then had to wait at the back of the line with a crying baby, and ask other passengers if I could go in the front. That’s why I recommend that you always let staff know that you are there first.

When boarding starts, I pack up everything, put the baby into the baby carrier or baby wrap, fold up the stroller and board the plane. I generally book an aisle seat at the back of the plane. The advantage there is that you have no pressure when packing up your stuff when going on and off the plane. Also, you are close to the toilets and diaper changeing facilities in the back of the plane.

So when I arrive at my seat, I lift the stroller into the overhead bin or I ask the flight attendant to help me. This is also a great opportunity to say hi to the flight attendants. They usually love cute babies and are super helpful. At my seat I then prepare a nappy change emergency kit, which consist of changing mat, a diaper, wet wipes and one spare outfit.

During take-off and landing

The flight attendants also have to hand out a baby seat belt and life vest for the baby. Putting on the seat belt for the first time can be a challenge, but you will soon get used to it. During take-off and landing I generally breast feed the baby to help him with pressure changes. In case you are not breast feeding you can also give him a bottle of pacifier. Whatever means you choose, it is important to find the right time window to let the baby suckle. If you start too early before take-off he will be done before the main pressure change happens, which can lead to pain in his ears. Also, you should start early enough during the decent phase, as this is where most of the pressure change happens. You can ask the flight attendant to let you know when the decent starts, so you get the timing right.

On the plane

In case it is a short distance flight, you will be busy most of the time with taking care of the baby, helping him during take-off and landing, changing a diaper etc. Most of the babies also nap during the flights. In case they get fussy you can put the baby into the baby carrier and walk to the back of the plane. The noise there will help them to calm down and fall asleep. And before you realize it is time to go back to our seat for landing.

On long distance flights, I recommend you book front row seats in advance. Most of the airlines offer infant beds that can be attached in the front rows. However, only some airlines reserve these seats for free for families with infants. At other airlines you have to pay extra for these seats. Also, the quality of these infant beds varies a lot. On our flight to Chicago we had one of these cots for baby Lucian, but he was already too big for it. As a result he was very uncomfortable. In the end we were taking turns in letting him sleep in our arms or wrapped up in the baby carrier.

Some airlines allow you to bring your car seat onto the plane, if it is certified to be attached to the plane seat with the seat belt and if you book an extra seat. The advantage is that you baby can sleep in the car seat during the flight. However, this is another piece that you have to carry. Also, if the baby is able to sit upright, you can buy a special seat belt system.

How to deal with jet lag when traveling with a baby

Just like adults also babies can have jet lag. And trust me, it is not fun. Because not only can the parents not sleep because of their own jet lag. Also, the baby is keeping them awake. My tips for dealing with baby jet lag is just the same as for adults. Before traveling try to adjust your schedule for 2 hours towards your destination. At your destination try to set you circadian rhythm with light and darkness. If you and the baby need to sleep, make it as dark as possible. During daytime, try to get lots of fresh air and sunshine. And most importantly: always give yourself enough time to adjust by maybe taking off two more days after your trip. The more you stress about jet lag, the more your baby will.

My favourite products for traveling with a baby

 A collapsible cabin size stroller

In the past, the Babyzen Yoyo has been the first stroller to fit onto a plane. This is also why we got it. It also has a new-born kit for babies under 6 months. However now several other brands came up with collapsible travel strollers. For example the Bugaboo Ant and Bonavi Air.



Diaper changing mat

Another thing that I love is this diaper changing mat, which also has pockets for diapers and wet wipes. It has a really practical size, and I generally just toss it into my backpack. When we need a diaper change, I then just take it out instead of taking the whole bag with me.

Travel high chair

This booster seat is great when you have booked an apartment that does not have a high chair for your baby. You can attach the booster seat to most of the chairs. Your baby can then sit in this seat attached to the seat belts and it cannot fall off. Also, you can save space and put your baby’s food into the bottom of the seat. This makes it perfect for traveling with a baby.

Baby carrier or baby wrap

I am a huge fan of baby wearing (you can check out my article here) and having your hands free while traveling is one of them. I personally use a Baby Bjorn baby carrier in summer and a bamboo baby wrap in winter.

Travel cot

We have bought this super light travel cot for baby Lucian. It is quite expensive, but super practical. Setting it up and taking it down is super easy and takes less than a minute. While the baby is small it can sleep in the top crib. Once it gets too big you can detach the crib and have bigger bed that also doubles as a day cot. If you open the zip on the side, the baby can also crawl out if he wants to. We love it so much, that we even got a second one as his permanent bed in London.

Travel toys

When traveling with a baby you will also need to bring toys to keep him entertained. However, bringing lots of toys can take up a lot of space. That’s why I prefer multifunctional toys that don’t take up a lot of space and can be used in various occasions. My favourites are stackable cup toys with holes that can also be used during bath time.

UV sterilizer and travel kettle

While your baby is still small you will have to sterilize baby’s pacifiers, teething toys and bottles regularly. At home I have a big steriliser, but I can’t take it with me while traveling. That’s why I got this handy UV sterilizer. And if you still prefer to you boiling water, you can buy a small travel kettle instead.

Do you have any more tips for traveling with a baby? Just leave me a comment!

 

 

 

The eco-friendly baby – tips for a more sustainable family life

The eco-friendly baby – tips for a more sustainable family life

Recently the most amazing thing happened to me: I became a Mom to a baby boy. And besides all the endless messages of joy and congratulations one friend also said something that got me thinking: “Having a child is probably the worst thing you can do for the climate and environment.” And while I still think that having children is probably the best thing that you can do to personally increase your joy and happiness, on a rational perspective he was right. Babies consume a lot of resources and produce a lot of waste. It is estimated that the average baby produces one ton of diaper waste in his lifetime. But this should not make anybody feel bad about having kids when the world is talking about the climate crisis. So here are my top tips on how to raise an eco-friendly baby and live more sustainably as a family.

(more…)

The best Christmas gifts for new moms, new dads and their babies

The best Christmas gifts for new moms, new dads and their babies

Are you looking for some nice Christmas gifts for new moms, new dads and their cute babies? But you are unsure which gift to get? Of course you are tempted to buy super cute baby stuff as a Christmas gift, but will the parents really need it and like it? Or are there better Christmas gifts to get them?

When my first child was born we were flooded with gifts. We got dozen of baby outfits, play mats, blankets and toys. But we rarely got what we really wanted or needed. So here are my best (and worst) Christmas gifts for new moms, new dads or their babies for Christmas.

(more…)