I've been absent from Fodors for quite a while as life has had many changes in store over the past couple years... a cross country move, new jobs, and a much longed for baby and the transition to being a SAHM. We took our precious son Alexander to our favorite country, Greece, in May 2011 when he was exactly 7 months old. We had a wonderful, wonderful trip and Alexander was quite the little travel pro . We found that he was very mellow about all the unfamiliarity and very interested in the new routine (we were careful to ensure he got plenty of sleep at night and naps during the day, so he was almost always well rested). Here are some reviews on some of the baby travel items we purchased.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib - we purchased ours on Amazon for significantly less than the Babies R Us price. PROS - Alexander slept wonderfully in it (it has a thick, comfy mattress), it seems very sturdy and safe, it was light, it's big enough that I think he will be able to use it to approximately age 2. We could always find a corner of our hotel room to set it up in even though we had some typical small European hotel rooms . CONS - it is too big to fit into a suitcase so you have to check it separately which eats into your luggage allowance (too big to carry on). Also, the sheets are quite expensive. We ended up purchasing some cheap portable play yard sheets that fit it perfectly and were a soft jersey material. I got 3 for about $20. If you have a really tiny hotel room, it may not fit.
Overall, we are glad we bought it and hauled it around. Even though our hotels advertised having portable cribs available, we checked them out and most were dirty and several seemed downright unsafe.
City Mini stroller by Baby Jogger - we also purchased this on Amazon. PROS - it handled the uneven streets and paths that are so common in Europe really well and is silly-easy to fold and unfold. Alexander slept in it when fully reclined. The sun shade is massive and very moveable which comes in handy in a sunny country like Greece. It provides plenty of support for a young infant. It is easily maneuvered with only one hand. CONS - it's somewhat bulky and took up a lot of room in the rental car, certainly more room than an umbrella would take. NOTE - we purchased it in the cute red color. I love it but we found that it attracted bees!
Beco Butterfly II Baby Carrier - the MVP of the trip! PROS - Alexander weighed about 18.5 pounds and this carrier is so well built that I was comfortable carrying him in it for hours at a time. It also adjusted to fit my husband quite well. Alexander loved, loved, loved being carried right next to mom and frequently took little naps while in it. It was easier to have him in the carrier in crowded places (markets, public transportation, museums) than to mess with a stroller. As an FYI, you can convert it to a backpack for heavier kids up to 35 pounds. CONS - the only one I can think of is that this isn't one of the carriers where you can turn baby around to face out. Babies go through a phase where they really like that (3-4 months).
Babies R Us Disposable Bibs - 36 large bibs for $4.29 - these were indispensable as "outfit savers". Our son frequently goes through several outfits a day due to either soaking them with drool (teething) or spitting up on them (reflux). We kept him in these bibs pretty much all of the time and they really, really helped cut down on the amount of clothes he went through which helped a ton with luggage space. They didn't cause any irritation of his skin whatsoever. I should add that I'm normally not a fan of disposable anything (my son wears cloth diapers at home), but for travel, disposable stuff is a godsend.
Best Travel Toys -
Nesting/Stacking Cups - useful at bathtime and for a normal toy. Lots of toys without taking up much room. Baby will love knocking over the towers of stacked cups.
Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Camera - we brought this one out on the plane for the first time and Alexander was completely fascinated. It never failed to entertain him.
Nuby singing star teether - this is a small BPA-free teether that sings "You are my Sunshine" and has a blinking light and lots of different colors and textures. Lots of bang for your buck and it doesn't take up much room.
Sophie the Giraffe - B.E.S.T. teether on the planet. Period. Other European babies will likely have one and your baby can laugh and coo at the other baby with the same toy.
Lamaze Mortimer the Moose learning toy - also bought on Amazon. Lots of things to keep baby busy.
NOTE - we didn't purchase a portable high chair even though we knew high chairs are really rare in Europe. Our son was still almost exclusively breastfeeding at the time and the small bits of food he ate such as mashed banana were easy to feed him while my husband held him on his lap.
I'll be happy to share more about our trip and tips/tricks on traveling with an infant if there is interest... just post to let me know. Overall I would heartily recommend it!
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