For my baby's first trip abroad ever, we went on a shopping spree in Dubai, more because I needed the change than the merchandise. I knew it wouldn't be easy to roam a huge shopping mall with a 7-month-old, but I decided it was worth a try. After the trip, I came up with a few pieces of advice, some of which I did and were life-saving and others I admittedly didn't do, but wish I had.
Before you go
a) Make a list: If you're not only shopping for the fun of it, and need to get things done, make a list of everything you need to buy, or at least some of them. It will help you save time instead of staring at the numerous shops saying 'Why did I come here again?'
b) Sit at your computer: If you know specific shops you intend to go to, visit their website. You can get an idea about available merchandise and prices from the comfort of your own chair. Also, don't forget to visit the website of the mall/s you're heading to and writing down in a small notebook where each store is, or at least on which floor. This idea is a tremendous timer-saver.
c) Get your gear ready: Maybe your baby is not a big fan of being strapped to a stroller
or carried in a soft carrier, but those gears are an absolute necessity. Your baby might fuss for a while when first put in a stroller if he's not used to it, but he will be distracted by motion, shops, people and everything happening around him that he will eventually stop crying, even when stationary. So no matter how the baby gear is a pain to carry around, resist the temptation to leave them behind. Most strollers are equipped with baskets, which are great for keeping the baby's bag and small shopping bags, without needing four arms to carry stuff around. Give it some thought and decide which suits you and your baby better. If travelling by air, remember that strollers can be folded, wrapped in plastic wrap for a small fee, given a number and claimed with your luggage at the luggage belt, so you don't have to worry about where to put it on the plane.
When you're there:
a) Plan 'alone time': No matter how difficult it is to leave your baby in a hotel room or at home with someone, if you need to get things done, you just might have to. Leave your baby with your partner or any family member accompanying you for a couple of hours or so. During this time you can buy lots of things you need, visit non-baby-friendly stores and get things done faster. No matter how hard you try, a baby will make things go slower, so you are bound to buy faster and more efficiently when alone. Combine this with the list idea, and you'll be saving loads of time. Try to leave your baby fed and changed: you don't want to come back to a husband who's complaining about how 'the baby won't eat', 'won't stop crying' or a baby whose diaper isn't worn the way it should be. (Sorry guys, but when it comes to babies, you crack in a flash!)
b) When shopping for clothes: You may keep your baby in his stroller next to your seat while you try on a shoe, but in a fitting room? Not always an option! Some fitting rooms are too tight to accommodate you, your clothes AND a stroller. In this case, use a car seat instead which is especially useful with younger infants. They fit in almost every fitting room. However, the only downside to them is how tiring it becomes to carry around your baby in his seat while you walk long distances between shops. So try to have someone with you to guard your baby in his stroller while you try on clothes, don't go to many shops or walk a lot if you use a car seat, and better yet, restrict clothes' shopping to your 'alone time' if possible.
c) Pay attention to your baby's needs: With all the glamorous shops out there, you might forget about your baby's schedule for moments. Trust me, it happens! Needless to say, you will be carrying around your baby's bag full of his necessary items. Do not take everything with you, but keep it short to the crucial items only. You don't need the extra weight to carry around. There's no need to carry extra clothes or all the medicine you brought from home, the ones which your baby needs a dose of during the day are enough. Some necessities are:
i. Diapers and wipes: If you use cotton balls and water, forget it! Be practical. Let your baby wear a bib before going out and keep one or two in his/her bag, to minimize the need for changing clothes.
ii. Teething medicine (e.g.: gel) and teethers if your baby is teething and the pain kicks in.
iii. Baby food jars and bottles/formula/warm water in a thermos bottle/nursing cover. Tip: Only take baby food your baby tried and liked. You don't want him/her making a 'yuck' face and spitting the food on the go or at a table.
iv. A toy and a small pack of tissues.
d) Have fun: Don't let motherly responsibilities overwhelm you, enjoy your day/trip as much as you can, and don't panic if anything goes against your plans. Be happy about the fact that your angel is sharing this with you and don't think of him/her as an obstacle.
After your trip
Relax: Shopping with an infant, especially for consecutive days, is exhausting and it drains your energy. Take a day off and do nothing but care for yourself and your baby. The shopping bags are going nowhere and will not scream for help if not unpacked, no matter how excited you get about them. And yes, take-out is now a 24/7 option, so use it, or make simple sandwiches using things your pantry already contains. Forget about the laundry, take a nice hot shower when your baby naps, and postpone every chore for the next day.
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