Traveling with a Newborn: Ocean City, NJ (Our First Trip)

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As you may know, we took our first vacation with our newborn son, Weston.  He hit six weeks old half way through our trip to Ocean City.  Living and working in Philadelphia, we don’t use our car much.  On average, we probably drive it once every 2-3 weeks. Needless to say, Weston has not been in his car seat much, and when he has, he really hasn’t liked it.  This was his longest drive yet, about an hour and forty five minutes once we dropped Avett off at my cousin’s house. 

Every time we put Weston in the car seat, he freaks out.  He cries and screams until he has no voice and turns a deep purpley-red color, about the same color as one of the heirloom tomatoes we used this week.  We always have to take him out of the seat and put him back in.  Sometimes he has to eat in between, but he is usually fine once we put him back in and he sleeps while we are driving.  We did the dance.  I packed the car, we got Weston and Avett ready, and started to go.

Update:  Just the other day, he didn’t cry in the carseat for the first time.  It was glorious.  We went to Lowes, Whole Foods, and my grandmother’s 90th b-day party without an incident.  He’s definitely more comfortable the bigger and stronger he gets.  This is great news for us, since we’ll have a lot more driving in our lives very soon.

This time, though, Weston was extremely irritable as soon as we pulled away from our parking spot.  Driving did nothing to calm him down.  By the time we got to the end of our block, he was the heirloom tomato screaming/crying with little to no sound coming out.  We were going to try to make it to my cousin’s house, but twenty minutes just seemed too far. He had our attention.  Kait had me pull over, and Weston ate for a good twenty minutes.  Kait put him back in the car seat and he snoozed soundly until we got to Ocean City.

IMG_0431Weston was great when we got down there, he just needed to eat again.  That would be a lot of the vacation for Kait, going in our bedroom to breastfeed Weston with some privacy and quiet time.  Mostly to have some room from our four and half year old niece who was lovingly obsessed with Weston that week.  It’s really cute and we love it, but she couldn’t keep her hands off of him and seemed to be right there all of the time.  Explaining to her that she had to be gentle and give Aunt Kait and Weston some space was an ongoing battle throughout the week, but towards the end of the week she was great.  She truly learned to respect boundaries.  

We spent the week in the house with our three nieces, my sister’s three girls – four and a half, three, and fifteen months-ish.  Though trying at times, it was really wonderful.  It was a great bonding experience for Kait and I with them.  We hope to keep a special bond with them. 

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We didn’t know what to pack, the weather was a bit fickle and changed from a beautiful forecast to windy and chilly for the first several days.  We actually got to dress Weston in some cool weather clothes for the first time which was adorable, obviously.  We packed way too many onesies.  I’ll use the excuse that  he was kind of between sizes, but I’m really just an over-packer (something I’m actively working on).  A few bigger newborn outfits fit, some 0-3, and some 3 months.  He’s pretty much in 3 months clothes now, except for some bigger 0-3’s, and smaller 3-6 months.  He’s in the 85% for length right now and his weight is right in the middle, so filling out nicely as he grows.  But, wow, is he growing fast.  He doesn’t seem like a newborn.  I swear he seems the same size as some of these kids we see standing and walking around.  

IMG_0526 2Beach time was interesting.  We brought some beach wear that was handed down to us, but it really didn’t matter at all for this trip.   I don’t know what we were thinking he would do, but he basically just slept the whole time.  Kait decided to wear Weston in her Boba wrap, which ended up covering him quite nicely from the sun.  We tried one of those beach tent things the one day, but it was too hot.  An umbrella was definitely the way to go, which we did the others.  We did take him down to the water to dip his feet in a couple of times, but that was about it.  He ate and slept the majority of the time we were on the beach.  We only got three days on the beach because of the cool weather and the wind.  A few days were just too windy for Weston to be on the beach.  One morning, we took him down to the beach and watched the surfers for about an hour.  This time I wore him in my Boba carrier. Kait and I switched off with carrying, holding, and pushing the stroller.  This really gave us a good break so our bodies didn’t get to tired or sore.  Kait also pumped a few times so that we could go out, but we didn’t end up going out without Weston.  It just didn’t work out that way, and we were totally cool with it.  We gave my parents the option to come with us or watch him and they decided to come with us.  So, we still used the bottles to give Kait a break and so Weston continues to get used to using a bottle.  He did great.  I fed him, my Mom fed him, and Kait tried a bottle too.  Weston took those bad boys, no problem!

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We took the Guava travel crib which is fantastic.  It folds up nice and small, super simple and convenient.  We got the Guava because of the small size for traveling.  That along with our white noise machine, swaddle, and sound monitor – bedtime was a breeze.  We brought our bumGenius cloth diapers, our organic cloth wipes, and spray.  We washed the diapers every morning to keep up with our same routine.  It was so simple.  We brought The MoonWomb, which he started being able to lean on pretty independently, so that has been very handy for our the ability to get things done!

The biggest thing we thought we learned but we may have really messed up on this trip, is what a lot of people call the witching hour.  I wrote about this on an instagram post too, but this is no joke.  Every evening, usually around 5-6pm but sometimes earlier or later, Weston would freak out – like he does in the car seat.  It appeared to be mostly gas related, at least that is what we thought. Sometimes he seemed tired, sometimes hungry, and sometimes just hot and uncomfortable.  We would try to calm him down, even though it really didn’t seem like there was much we could do.  Nonetheless, we kept trying to comfort him and figure it out.

Weston had these extremely fussy moments a few times when we had him in the stroller on the boardwalk.  The one evening, we decided to play mini golf with my parents (for those of you wondering, no worries, I won).  It was hot and very humid that evening, and it only took about two holes before Weston started gearing up some serious angst.  Kait ended up only playing three holes so she could calm Weston, while my parents and I played the rest.  Very kind of her to take that on, she’s just wonderful.

IMG_0671Afterwards, Kait and I decided to grab some food on the boardwalk, and Weston started up again.  We just did what we could to comfort him in the moment, while still getting our food.  We are really making it a point to not allow these situations to dictate what we do.  We want to comfort Weston, but we also want him to get used to us being out and active.  I ate, then took Weston so Kait could eat.  He was pretty unhappy that entire time, but he finally calmed.  I ended up carrying him all the way back to the house, holding him sideways and facing away.  Those C.R.I.E.S. from Taking Cara Babies really do the trick, it’s just an ongoing process and can be tiresome.  He ended up falling asleep, sideways in my arms and we walked home.  It was quite nice.

As I wrote about in that instagram post, staying calm and positive as the parent is huge in these situations.  Our children, and everyone else around us, feed off of our energy.  We set the tone.  If we freak out negatively, then that would only worsen the situation.  However, when we remain calm and peaceful, that allows everyone to know that we have this under control, no need to worry or judge.  This helps the collective energy stay positive and we can all be more peaceful and happy.  This is something that I actively work on with myself while caring for Weston, no matter where we are or what we are doing.  I do my best to make the choice to stay peaceful and happy in all situations, to let him know that we have this connection and to set the example.  His body-mind, his personality is forming right now and we play a big part as to how it shapes.

One important thing Kait and I forgot about on this trip, is newborns have a 60-90 minute awake window.  This is so unbelievably helpful in knowing why Weston may be upset and filled with rage at times.  “Remember the sleep cues!” (Taking Cara Babies).  We don’t understand why it’s a thing, but his brow really does turn red when he is tired. 60-90 minutes tends to fly by, so it is incredibly easy for it to seem like he just took a nap when he is likely ready for another.  We try to keep track as much as possible, because it works!  This is something we forgot about while in Ocean City and I believe that played a big role in Weston’s irritability.  Had we been keen on that, I believe we would have been better prepared and reduced his fussiness.  I don’t think the “witching hour” would have been as much of a thing as it seemed to be.

Side Note:  We forgot until we rewatched the Taking Cara Babies Newborn course this week.  We have learned all of this from the Taking Cara Babies newborn class. It has been extremely helpful, definitely recommend it.

Update:  Weston is not having that evening witching hour as much this week.  He’ll have some gas issues in the morning, but things have changed that quickly – as they always tend to do.

Weston did this two other times on the boardwalk.  Both of those times, he needed to eat.  We sat on benches as Kait fed him.  She had pumped and we had a bottle once, which I fed to him.  We found quiet areas and just took our time.  Once he calmed down, Weston typically fell asleep in his bassinet until we transferred him into his swaddle and Guava crib.  It was bed time, and we were still establishing our bedtime kind of-routine.  We just did it while on the boardwalk so we could still enjoy ourselves.  We found a great spot the one night and watched the colors of the sky change and lights of the amusement rides light up as the sun went down.  We just did what we could and enjoyed it all.

Though we stayed with my parents and sister’s family, Kait and I just did our own thing each day.  We did what we wanted to, but just had to take Weston’s needs into account in all situations.  To do so, most of the time we either got an earlier or later start than the rest of our family.  When it came to the boardwalk or walking around town, we did that earlier or independently.  When it came to the beach, we went down later.  We didn’t stay on the beach longer than a few hours, but it was just so great being on the beach and by the ocean.  I got to enjoy some decent size waves for the first time in a long time.  I love that shit.  We strategically left the beach before everyone to get back to the house to start giving Weston a bath in a stand-up shower.  Since we drove, we brought our little baby bath hammock thing with us and  made it work.  We got a pretty good routine down by the end of the week. 

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We loved taking him around town and on the boardwalk.  Despite his crying and discomfort, we still had a great time.  Many people walking by just smiled at us, or said how cute he was, or said “that’s a newborn, I know from the cry!”.  No one cared.  We didn’t care.  Kait and I just did what we had to do and enjoyed our time.  I believe that our peacefulness set the tone for this.

This vacation and drive was a good first one for us with Weston.  We plan on traveling with him rather frequently and he will go on his first flight in October.  We have a three and half hour and a six and half hour drive coming up too.  These will all be learning experiences and everything will take longer than they would have in the past.  We don’t care.  We want to do all of these things and want to start doing them early on with Weston so we all get used to it.  We know to give ourselves less to do and allow more time to do them.  We know to make sure he eats well before we leave and know his sleep times.  Stay calm, loving, and happy.

Kait and I look back fondly on this trip and we learned a ton.  We look forward to many more adventures and travels as a family, of which I’ll share with you.  

This weekend, we travel the three and half hours north to Kait’s hometown of Woodstock, NY to visit family.  I’ll let you know how it goes….

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