7 TOO MANY gadgets for kids on the go and ONE thing you can't miss!
We've had a bit of travel behind us, and it's time to take a straightforward look and describe what baby gadgets were completely useless or so little used that it was uneconomical to buy them. Yes, this list will be subjective like no other on our blog 🙂
Pregnancy period and the first months of parenthood are a huge amount of decisions to make. Parents-to-be want to provide the best for their child, and since everything is at their fingertips these days, they are buying on a whim. They buy because friends recommended it, they buy because they were told so in the birthing school, they buy because, after all, if a famous parenting blogger has something, it's definitely a must-have, they buy… because they believe that by doing so they will provide happiness and smiles to the baby, and reassure themselves that they are the best parents in the world.
Our blog is not a parenting blog, and posts about traveling with a baby only account for about 10% of all posts. It is natural, however, that we write about traveling with a child, attractions for the youngest, interesting places and, finally, about many practical aspects that will make many people decide to go on a trip with their kids (which we mega recommend! :)).
We like to make life and travel easier, we're a bit of a gadgeteer (okay, more Paul, especially when it comes to technology) and because of our passion, it's natural for us to keep our finger on the pulse and watch what's in the grass in the travel and parenting meadow. Before Olive appeared, we searched, compared, discussed which stroller to buy, which sling, which crib, which toys, etc. etc. Later, the first travel plans appeared, so we also began to look for what would be most useful to us on this trip.
Now, after two years we look with reserve at all that is recommended. Every now and then there are new approaches, new companies that are outdoing themselves with innovative approaches to child development, design or materials. Everyone has their own research and their own rationale that shows that their product is the best, safest and healthiest for the baby. This does not mean that we completely disregard opinions or recommendations, because they are very often valuable, but you need to approach them carefully and even critically.
The following list is very subjective. We didn't have everything, but we also never had the need to buy them just because someone recommends them. The list is done In terms of travel (with a child under two), and not of everyday life. This is very important, because some of the following items we like to use every day, but when going on a trip we unscrupulously leave them at home. And most importantly: each child is different and each has different needs. Something that didn't work for us may be a hit with others – and these are your comments we expect 🙂
Looking for a complete list of things to take with you on a trip? We recommend our entry What to take on vacation? Where you can find more details on how and what to pack. In addition, you can download there free sample list to pack for yourself and/or for the whole family.
Then we're off with a list of travel gadgets that didn't work for us at all, or that we didn't need, and that everyone on the outside recommended to buy.
Boom! Surprised? 😉 You did not expect? 🙂 And yet, a stroller bag is something we don't recommend taking, although there are a few exceptions when it can come in handy, but about that below.
I once read somewhere on Facebook a story about how a newly mom buys a regular stroller bag to start with, and most often uses the one that came free with the stroller. Then he finds that a larger, more manageable, with pockets is needed, so he buys some well-known, recommended model. A while later he comes to the conclusion that he needs a bag that he can treat as an everyday bag, so he buys a more fashion or designer one, and as the child grows, runs away it is not always a large bag is convenient, so the best is a backpack… You know it? The method of trial and error, constant changes, wandering in the maze of lauded products, resulting in the purchase of several things with the same purpose. When buying the first things "for the baby" we are constantly looking for something that will work best for us.
So why do we consider a bag as an unnecessary gadget? And then what is the bag hanging on the stroller doing in our initial travels with Olive?! The bag comes in handy then if we always travel with a stroller. Always. However, if you plan to go on the road with the baby in a sling or carrier, the bag will only become a burden for you. Definitely better then to pack everything in a backpack and/or kidney.
Also, when flying on an airplane, it may turn out that an extra bag is just a hindrance, because someone, however, has to carry it, unpack it for inspection, etc.
And I admit here, you can look for stroller bags that are both backpacks, but unfortunately when something is for everything it's for nothing… We, when going on a trip, stay on our feet for several hours at a time and our backs thank us at the end of the day for comfortable, balanced backpacks with extra fasteners on at least the hip belts. We also focus on functionality and what we really need – we do not need a thousand bottle compartments, since our daughter does not accept bottles. Instead, we need a backpack that can be opened all the way so we can easily get to the stuff at the very bottom. Well, and waterproofness also matters 😉
Also an important thing – but if you decide on a bag, it is worth paying attention to whether it can be placed on the stroller at all. On our wonderful Yoyo (seriously it is great! :)) you can not, because it can easily overload the stroller backwards.
So what do we advise? Don't take any dedicated bag or backpack for your child. Take only luggage that will not weigh you down. We go with the assumption that we take two backpacks handy, and in this we need to pack all three of us, because in practice our hands will be missing to carry all the bundles.
It was also nice to have such a mini bag next to the stroller, which we had in Vienna. You pack only the essentials in there, it's lightweight and not extra luggage – it's kind of like a part of the stroller 😉
Travel cot/tent for the baby
Here we mean both large folding playpens and such small folding tents that can be closed, often with mosquito nets. In general, this point is all about what the child would sleep in on the trip.
First of all, in most hotels we had no problem getting a crib in the room. Even when we did not ask for such, at the time of check-in we were asked if we need a crib. Aside from the hotel deals on Booking.com, it is also very common to find houses and apartments in Airbnb, where free of charge the owners will also prepare a special playpen for the baby. It's worth asking.
But what if finding accommodation with a crib borders on the miraculous? Or it costs so much that it is already more worthwhile to buy a new crib? We just sleep together! Yes, we admit to the fact that on trips we often sleep three 😛 I won't write much about the theory itself regarding co-sleeping, but it is safe as long as you stick to a few basic guidelines, which you can easily find on the Internet.
We also often combine – we make small playpens from available blankets, pillows, remembering that safety always comes first.
Playing and singing toys
Especially the loud ones, with melodies that follow the parents half a day later, and they eagerly sing them at work.
We always take into account that on a plane, train or bus we are not alone, and such toys are not only noisy, but can annoy fellow passengers. Well, so we took them initially and used them only in the hotel. Occasionally. In the hotel on trips we stay only enough to sleep and rest for a while, so here, too, there was no room for improvement. These toys, while they can be fun for babies (although it's also worth reading about baby overstimulation), are also often heavy, requiring spare batteries and screwdrivers – well, what to do when the battery in a favorite toy suddenly runs out?
In our two-year history of parenting, we have not come across such a playing toy, which would be so cool that Olive would want to play with it every day for at least 15 minutes. Especially since on trips everything around is new, so also children prefer to explore the unknown rather than play with what they already know very well.
Non-drip cups/bottles with a pacifier
As I mentioned Olive did not accept any bottle, so we went away from the topic of buying and carrying bottles for the first 6 months at all. Later we introduced water, and it is water that Olive drinks most often on trips 😉
Of course, we tried the popular cut cups, non-cap cups, but the ones that worked best for us were simply bottles with a sports stopper. Later came the bidon and it accompanies us so far. Nowadays, for every trip we take only this one bottle with a tube.
In restaurants or bars if we buy Olive something to drink, instead of pouring we simply ask for a straw, and by the way, drinking from an ordinary cup is no mean feat anymore. Because after all, what we would not buy, the best is still what the parents drink, right?
With all this, we do not make a tragedy if a little of this water spills out. Water on clothes is not the end of the world, and often provides a nice cool down 😉
Included with the first bag was a changing mat, which we eagerly took with us at first. We have not used it even once. Not once! First of all, our mat was too small (narrow) and while it is enough for a newborn, it is no longer necessarily for larger children. Secondly, it did not have any special surface to prevent absorption of everything that can be found on the changing table, so any "accident" would involve washing the entire mat (quite thick and slow-drying).
I know there are bigger and better changing mats on the market, but they also take up more space then.
What do we take on the trip? Or disposable changing pads (which can really be used several times!) or a reusable changing pad bought at Ikea – it's easy to wash, takes up little space and is more eco-friendly than reusable pads.
Container for wet wipes
We thought it would be a hit. It happened to us before that the wipes dried out because we forgot to close them or the wrappers got drafty.
Containers for wet wipes appeal to many parents, but not to me. They take up a lot of space and are rigid. Much better to buy even a small package of wet wipes – it will take up much less space and easier to squeeze them somewhere.
Here I mean such a fabric "chair" that attaches to a normal chair.
Yes, we bought such before the trip to the Azores, because it was the time when Olive was more and more willing to sit at the table with us, and we were afraid that there would be no chairs for children on site.
The problem with this chair is that it takes up little space and we often just forgot about it 😉 Once we remembered and installed it, Olive refused to sit in it. And you know what? I'm not surprised at all for her. The baby sits much lower, barely reaches the table. It is not very comfortable, and also with getting up from it the baby is unlikely to have a problem – so it works poorly.
It ends up on the black list 😉
All of the above gadgets for us turned out to be unnecessary, even though there was always someone who highly recommended them. We managed without them, and some of the hands were an extra burden for us.
Of course, a lot depends on your way of traveling and your and your baby's needs, so you don't have to take the above list as the most sacred truth 🙂
Nevertheless, we have one request: instead of going shopping and scouring the internet for the best things for our baby, it's better to spend this time in other ways.
Just to spend it with the baby – this is the one thing that can never be missing, whether in travel or in everyday life 🙂
As Paul wrote in this post, when traveling we finally have ourselves 24/7, we don't have to go to work, we don't have to clean and cook. We can then spend the most time together and it is worth to use this time well 🙂