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New York, New York…a helluva town…

Three words: Bring A Sling
I love New York. It’s busy, lively, flashy (in the eyes of an 8 month old) and noisy, all mixed up into one big, wonderful city. I have found, though, that the city really is not very baby friendly. Or at least, stroller friendly.
In a city of over 8 million people, with 22 million in the metro area, there are loads of babies. What you very rarely see, though, is a baby in a stroller on public transport. The public transportation is the most baby unfriendly I’ve seen yet. No strollers allowed on buses that don’t fold up, there are very few subway stations that have elevators, even fewer that have escalators, and forget it if you’re on your own. So, that’s why I say to bring a sling.
if you forgot one or are in the market for a new one, get yourself (and your baby) over to Metro Minis to buy one. I found this shop my first time in New York over the summer (that update to come later…) and bought one sling. And I found myself with Little Man at the shop again, this time to get a new one…we love our Beco Gemini but the snap on one of the legs has started to come loose so I wanted to get a new kind of sling that was a mix between the Beco Gemini and the Ergo Baby (we found one called the Action Sling that seems to be the perfect mix). This shop is fabulous. It’s got loads of different slings to try (there are many selections that are much more comfortable and supportive than the Baby Bjorn – those are considered the evil slings to the die-hard baby wearing world) and the women who work in the shop are very happy to spend as much time with you as you need to help find the perfect sling. The shop is extra perfect as they have a comfy back room in case you need to feed your little one, and even a lovely changing table to change him/her too. I believe the changing table is a model they sell – a really cool wall mounted unit that folds up and looks like a big apple when not in use.
But…as I say, try to avoid your stroller if you want to go out of a walkable radius from your hotel and not have to deal with the cabbies, which will add up in $$ if you want to go around the city. Of course, you can always plot your travels around the stations that have elevators, but you’ll find that you will be walking a lot to get places.
We are staying in Chelsea and the neighbourhood there is great to explore. It’s also close enough to the West Village and Times Square so you can walk down or up to those neighbourhoods. Penn Station, 10 blocks away, is very elevator-tastic and you can find yourself either in Times Square or around Union Square if you want to use the subway and some elevators without looking around for someone to help you carry your stroller up the stairs.
This time around, I have been looking for play rooms for Little Man while Daddy works. We take Gymboree classes back home and I found out that you can do a make up class at any Gymboree if you are travelling, so we hope to make one during our trip. New York seems to have many indoor play areas you can become a member of, or drop in for a one-off visit. We are aiming for one of them this trip, so I’ll let you know the choices and which one we end up going to.
If any of you out there live in New York and have suggestions on things to do, please let me know. I think I will start putting up links to places to visit with little ones in different cities.
Where have you found to be so stroller unfriendly?

To travel or not?

What do you do if you have a sick baby and are planning to travel in 4 days? What actually constitutes as sick? Fever? Cough? Runny nose? Vomiting? All of the above?
We’ve got just that…plus a diagnosed chest infection from the doctor yesterday. Complete with some antibiotics too. Joy.
So, what does one do? Medically-wise, I’m not worried as we are heading to New York and the medical system there is top notch. Comfort-wise, I’m only really concerned by the airplane travel…as in what happens if he decides to start throwing up on the plane…I’ll have to make sure to bring clean outfits for Little Man and for me too. Practicality-wise, dealing with a sick baby at home is like a sick baby away.
Then the the sensibility that kicks in. When I’m sick, all I really like to do is be curled up on the couch or in bed watching crappy rom-coms or cheesy television. I know Little Man doesn’t have any preference on couch or bed or tv or movies, so I like to think his equivalent is curled up on mummy or daddy, getting big cuddles while trying to get some rest.
While that can be done anywhere, why put him through a seven hour plane ride, risk being thrown up on close quarters on the airplane (and wearing soggy, milky clothes for six hours), lose the comforts of our own home all to go to New York? We are going to be seeing family members, one of which is moving several states to the south that will make visiting a bit less convenient for our trips to the Northeast, and some friends with newborns, and see New York all gussied up for Christmas (do we risk the queues at Macy’s for that photo with Santa?).
On top of all of that, there is the airline and our tickets. We’re flying with air miles and we have to cancel at least 24 hours before the flight in order not to lose our miles and get refunded the taxes (minus a £25 admin fee). We are even given the opportunity to change our flight up to the time of travel with a doctor’s note saying he is unwell and then schedule the travel for when he is well. (That doesn’t work as we are tagging along with my husband for work, but it’s good to know).
Well, we’ve decided to wait for the weekend. Since we have until Monday night to cancel our flight, we will see if Little Man throws up over the weekend. If we can go more than 48 hours without vomit and a fever, we’re getting on the plane. So far, that clock has been reset…several times…fingers crossed he’s on the other side of the hill with this chest infection. One night without a fever down, at least.

What would you do with a sick baby and upcoming travel? How do you gauge when a baby is fit to travel?

Travelling underground…

Tips for travelling on any metro/underground system with a little one (in no particular order):
– Find the handicap areas to board the train as they tend to be step-free
– If you can use a sling and avoid a stroller, do
– Find when peak times are. Try not to travel during them
– If you have to travel during peak times, be polite and courteous
– When the trains are busy, it helps having things to entertain your little one with, be it food, a pacifier or toys. Avoid the obnoxiously noisy toys if you’re going to be on the train for a while and it’s busy…actually, this helps when trains aren’t busy too…but then again, bored and frustrated babies aren’t always fun so whatever works is best
– When using the escalators and there are a lot of people, go to the back of the line to take the escalator up. That way, you can be a bit slower and not disrupt those commuters who are so keen to get home without many interruptions
– Be nice, courteous and don’t forget to smile. Happy mummy/daddy helps for a happy baby which helps contribute to happy commuters
– Head for the lifts, where possible. The voices, though, on some can be really loud and may either wake little one or startle them, so escalators might be better
– Don’t forget to hold on
– It’s OK to ask someone to vacate a seat so you (and your little one) can sit down. There are designated seats for that reason
– Be prepared for your stop in advance so you’re not rushing to get off
– If you take the stroller, don’t forget to put the brake on
– When little one is on your lap and the stroller is next to you, don’t forget that the bags hanging on the handles add weight and there is a higher potential for the stroller to tip when the train stops short…
– Walk instead

What tips do you have for underground travel?