…speaking of pungent fruits.. It isn’t durian season, but Thai varieties are available all year so we can get them here. I had a craving for it a few weeks ago and the little boy got in on the fun. Yep, he’s had a taste and seems to like it.
it’s a nice little rendering from the folks over at House32, no?
We always have a ready list of items to look for on our travels, that we can’t find or don’t have a wide selection of in Cambodia. Toys were on that list this year. While home we looked for toys that’ll engage the little boy’s imagination longer than the immediate learning phase. And I’m not a fan of the plastic battery-operated trinkets with obnoxious bright lights and noise. I remember the toys from when I was a kid which had a lot to do with being creative – like blocks, tinker toys or legos. So one of our great finds is this Zany Zoo wooden activity cube. It’s sturdy and bottom-heavy (at 9kg/19lb this little boy can pull himself up on it without tipping it over), thoughtfully designed (rounded corners, bright colors, dense with a variety of activities), and very attractive. And I love the rest of the B. line of toys – great philosophy, great designs, lovely products.
We cabin-checked this toy through all flights from New Orleans to NYC to Phnom Penh. Thankfully all the flight attendants and crew were very accommodating.
That said, there are actually some options in Phnom Penh for quality toys. [Read more…] about Toys for tots
Last month the most direct route from our house in Phnom Penh to my parents’ doorstep in NYC took 29 hours. We took two flights: Phnom Penh – Hong Kong for three hours, then Hong Kong – JFK for around 16 hours. It’s a long time on the road with an infant. Our baby practically lives in a suitcase, and has been on numerous flights since he was born – always as a lap child (at $1520 a seat on this flight, I think we’re going to take him as a lap child as long as we can!), so he’s used to flying and is generally manageable on flights. Nevertheless, I’m always anxious before the trip and packing “his” carry-on is de-stressing me.
We’re preparing for our trip back this weekend — yes, after I’d finally adjusted to the time zone and the cold weather. And grr we lose a day going back to Asia. But after several weeks of on-and-off colds and coughs, we’re ready for some tropical weather! With the rainy season over (though the floods in SE Asia sadly are not..), it’s the start of the cool season there.
So for keeping the baby constantly entertained on the plane? We’d irritate fellow passengers after Old McDonald belts out his farm song for the 20th time so no loud toys. Nor bright blinking toys, since they dim the cabin and passengers sleep to adjust to the time change. We’re packing a couple of his favorite snacks and activities. Here are a few ideas, but these are too things many to lug around. It’ll be just as chaotic keeping track of them as it is to keep the baby entertained or asleep.
- Snacks – cheerios, grapes, a bottle or sippy cup to put juice in
- Lollipops – candy to suck on in case he doesn’t want to nurse during takeoff or landing
- Markerboard with a washable marker and magnetic alphabets
- Balloons – great for the layover for him to chase around the lounge and tire himself
- Bubbles – for the layover
- Bottle caps eg from Snapple, Starbucks etc – lots of them and put them in a container to double for a rattle
- Stacking cups – I just collect the unused cups and bowls during mealtimes since the airline sets stack well
- Colorful pipe cleaners
- Long strings knotted together
- Hand/finger puppets
- Baby books
- Ergo carrier for walking him up and down the aisle if needed
- Ipad loaded with music and baby touch and hear apps – A flight is the only time that watching a screen enters the repertoire of entertaining diversions, and I’ve found apps for babies which are well done (educational) and simple, for very little ($0.99) or free.
Not to mention other necessities like an extra change of clothes (for both of us and the baby), enough diapers and wipes, and low expectations: Six months ago as a four month old, he did well on the same cross-Pacific trips because he nursed and slept a lot back then. But on this trip here he’s a mobile and easily engaged tot with an intense curiosity. I went into the Phnom Penh – NYC trip with some trepidation, and I found I had a significantly more difficult time than when I’d previously embarked on flights with an open mind and low expectations. Good thing hubby has a more laid-back and calm personality so the baby didn’t have just my frazzled self to soothe him.
Here’s hoping for smooth flights and a soundly asleep baby for most of the trip..
Having a baby is a life changer, and thankfully our life outside the US has been good for us. The social culture in SE Asia and my profession are both supportive of young families. Staff and diners here don’t cringe when we walk into a restaurant or food shop; instead they fight over who gets to hold the baby while we eat, and he’s returned to us with the bill. Second, we’re lucky that my employer is so supportive of new mothers. There’s a nursery at the office so nursing moms to bring our babies to work. My colleagues help make sure that I can pump on the days I don’t bring the baby by scheduling me into the meeting rooms. I have an unofficial flex time. And on travels I can bring the baby (and his nanny) with me.
My current work has to do with quality improvement of health facilities in USAID-supported provinces. Two of the three people on my team have young babies, and we bring them along with us to the health centers. Since my husband does freelance and can work anywhere there’s an internet connection, he often joins us on my work trips.
One of the areas my team is working on is improvement of labor and delivery procedures. We’ve watched several deliveries lately – an endlessly fascinating miracle to me. It brings me back to the time my son became real to me, a little someone in my arms… Check these photos out. The baby is 2.5kg.
Kid-free zones seem to be increasingly popular over the past few years back in the US. Honestly, before I had a baby I’d have probably been in favor of the policy or at the very least indifferent to it.
We had our baby in SE Asia, where they take a completely opposite view towards kids and babies. When we walk into restaurants the waitstaff aren’t cringing at the thought of a screaming child and bussing a messy table. Once they get over the shyness of approaching a foreigner they fight over who gets to take the baby. They pass him around. Even the cooks and dishwashers back in the kitchen get in on the fun. Keith and I eat in peace, and the baby gets returned to us with the bill at the end of the meal.