By Rachel Walker
No one ever said bringing a baby on a ski vacation was easyuntil now. OK, maybe easy overstates it a bit. Babies, by definition, are demanding (nothing that requires frequent feedings throughout the night, diapers, and a lot of time being held is easy), but theyre also small, lightweight, and easy to bring new places. Even though you might be feeling shell-shocked by your little bundles arrival in your world, life as you know it is not over, which means this winter you can still ski or ride, even with that little infant.
Traveling most places with a baby is guaranteed to take a lot more time than traveling pre-kid did. If youre driving, pack an extra bag of clothes and have a few diapers and wipes handy as well as a prepared bottle or, if youre nursing, a designated spot to pull over for feedings along the way.
The car ride may be loud. Sometimes babies ears hurt when you ascend in altitude, and most of us arriving in the mountains are going up in elevation. In my experience (Ive got two kids, currently ages four and two), the best thing is to have a pacifier or bottle handy for kiddo to suck on while driving. If that doesnt help, just get through itstopping to try and help the babys ears pop on Loveland Pass isnt necessarily going to do much more than extend the discomfort.
If youre flying, dont worry about the baby annoying everyone on the plane. She will or she wont. Not your problem. Sure, smile at fellow passengers if shes wailingthat is after you try to comfort/nurse/entertain her. But if you are those parents with the screaming baby on the plane, console yourself with thoughts of powder face shots and scenic mountain vistas. The plane is temporary.
Make sure your condo or hotel has loaner cribs. Some charge for them, some dont. Rarely do they have crib sheets, so pack one from home.
The best place for the crib (unless you like kiddo in your room with you) is usually a closet (theyre big in those places! And dark!) Or the bathroom. If youre in a hotel room, try to book one with a mini-fridge, which is ideal for storing breast milk or kid foods like yogurt and applesauce.
Youve got a choice: pay for junior to go to the nursery (usually between $80-$140 per day) or switch on and off with your partner to watch the kid. If youre a single parent, try enlisting a friend to come along on this trip, especially one with a kid who would love to swap babysitting duty.
A word on ski area nurseries: they rock. Ive put my kids in nurseries up and down the Rocky Mountains. Although theyre not cheap and your kids nap schedule may go out the window, theres an immeasurable freedom in leaving your sweet and precious baby with certified, trained staff that will entertain, feed, and comfort him while you get to immerse yourself in one of the most fun and fulfilling sports available. Think of it as spa day for the skier set. Better yet, its like a date when you and your partner get to ski or ride together.
Im a huge fan of using the nurseries, even though my younger son doesnt like to be left. He always calms down within five minutes of my leaving (I know because I call and check on him) and the staff can be trusted to contact me if hes inconsolable. And rememberthey are happy to have you swing by to nurse the kiddo if you want. But know if you choose to, leaving a second time might be doubly traumatic (for you and the babe).
Everything is different at altitude, which means your babys sleep schedule may be off, he might not eat as much as at home, and he might be a little fussy. Bring a stroller or a front packwalking around the resort is a great way to distract a grumpy baby and lull her to sleep. Bring an extra hat and mittens, and a baby bunting or warm jacket and pants. Just as you need to drink more to prevent dehydration, so should your kiddo. Offer bottles or breast milk regularly. If youre nursing or pumping, dont forget your breast pump OR its electric charger.
The whole point of going to the cost and effort of bringing a baby is to get a change of scenery and to experience the mountains. You loved them before kids; and now you want your kid to love them. Naturally a winter ski trip with an infant will be unlike any other pre-kid trip you took. But its a wonderful introduction to the places you love. Sure, it requires additional logistics and costs, but try to think of it as an investment. Doing it now makes it that much easier down the road.