I try to get out of the house with Ava once a day, even if it’s just a quick 10 minute trip to the drugstore. It helps me maintain my own sanity and she enjoys the change in scene. Especially now that I’m a SAHM, I’m home A LOT. Ava was born in December of last year, we didn’t go anywhere in the beginning because our winters can be pretty brutal. I was pretty naïve pre-baby, I thought I’d just throw her in the car seat/stroller and she’d fall asleep. I’d walk around, maybe stop and have a latte while she napped. Yeah, right. Turned out, Ava was not that kind of baby. She hated car rides so much that I avoided them if possible, listening to a screaming baby while driving is not cool. And around the 3 month mark Ava was having trouble with feeding (more on that another time) and the anxiety of getting her to take a bottle in public was too much. She was not a fan of being pushed around in her car seat or stroller. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. Things got better somewhere between 5 and 6 months, she was eating more comfortably and was less fussy. And I wanted to see the light of day again. So I started bringing her out on short trips to whatever was local, usually Target. She would cry during the car ride there and back (PRETTY MUCH THE WHOLE 20 MINUTE DRIVE) and I’d end up carrying her around the store because she wouldn’t sit in her stroller or car seat for more than a few minutes. But I persisted, I figured the more we tried the better it would get. And it did. Fast-forward to 10 month old Ava and she can sit in the cart while I do my shopping and she actually likes it! There are a few things that greatly helped the situation and I wanted to share them here.
1. Brica Deluxe Baby In-Sight Firefly Mirror
This mirror has made driving so much more pleasurable. It has music and lights that appear on the mirror in various shapes when it’s turned on. The little fireflies also light up. It comes with a remote you can attach to your sun visor so when the music stops playing after 10 minutes you can put it back on again. You do have to remember to press the power button on the actual mirror before hopping into the front seat because unfortunately the remote only controls the music options and volume. I tend to turn it on right away while I’m putting Ava in the carseat so I haven’t had to deal with forgetting to turn it on. The first music option plays “entertaining” music for when your baby is awake, the second is a “soothing” option for when your baby is going to sleep. I find Ava has no idea there is difference, she will fall asleep and be entertained by both. Most importantly, the screaming is at a minimum.
2. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
This little toy is like a portable version of the Brica mirror, it plays music and lights up when you press the button on the front of it. It has 2 sound levels, the lower one usually works fine unless it’s really loud in the store. It gives Ava something to listen to and play with while I shop. When she starts to fuss a little, I hit the button and the music makes her happy. The songs don’t last long, so sometimes I end up repeatedly hitting the button depending on her mood. I’ve tried giving her crinkle books and other toys, but this seems to work the best.
3. Fiesta Musical Hippo aka Ava’s lovey ‘Happy’
Ava’s godmother got her a Bluum box subscription, which is a service that sends you a box every month with age-appropriate toys, food, etc. for your baby. It’s actually pretty cool and we enjoy opening the box every month and testing out the products. I tried to find this toy online, but I couldn’t so I just took a picture of it. I’m not really sure of the actual name, but the brand is Fiesta. When you pull its tail a lullaby plays. We started getting the boxes when Ava was around 6 months old, I think this may have been in the 7th month box. I noticed one day that Ava started kissing ‘Happy’ out of the blue and realized she seemed to have a special attachment to her. So I started giving it to her in the carseat and putting it next to her in the shopping cart and stroller. She comes to expect ‘Happy’ to sit with her during car rides and will reach her arms out to her after I strap her in. It’s pretty cute. When I look back with the rearview mirror, she’s usually giving her hugs, talking to her, or even just tossing her around. I think she feels better having a friend back there with her when she’s alone in the backseat.
4. Gerber Graduates Puffs
When all else fails, food saves the day. She’s small, but she loves to eat. And if she’s eating, she can’t be screaming right? I know it’s probably not the best thing to do to avoid a meltdown, but when you’re frazzled and there are 10 people waiting in line to pay and one cashier (but 12 registers?!), you do what you gotta do.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to share some of my experiences as a new mom and what was helpful. We definitely ran into some unexpected difficulties in those first few months and I spent a lot of time on Google researching and reading other blogs of parents with similar problems. Hopefully, this might help another mom who is at her wit’s end and let her know that things will get better.