Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tout Terrain Singletrailer Review - Part I

Christmas came early this year.  The long awaited Tout Terrain Singletrailer arrived in the mail today.  There is nothing like that new-trailer smell while unpacking each individually wrapped component with culminating excitement.  Even a bee came over to admire the luster of the bright orange fabric.

For those of you who don't know about the Singletrailer, prepare to be amazed.  There is no trailer like it in the world.  Tout Terrain has generously taken the time to put together a full-suspension trailer that allows you to bring your adventurous offspring into the wilderness in complete comfort.  With an anticipated Great Divide tour for 2014, Neva and I were offered the chance to test out this niche product.


Whenever I get a trailer, I have two main steps that I go through :

1.  I scrutinize the heck out of it.  

This is one of my favorite parts.  I compare it to other trailers I've ridden, and weigh the pros and cons, with functionality in mind, and give it an initial rating ; so later I can see if my initial assessment was correct, and if the rating goes up or down.

The Singletrailer scored a GREAT! right out of the box.  Every time I thought there might be a flaw, I would find a small detail which perfected it.  The secret is really in it's simplistic yet quality design of the cab of the trailer, and detail in how a suspension trailer should follow a bicycle.

2.  I attempt to put it together without the instructions. 

Okay, this might not be a fair one considering that's kind of my job, but I try to keep in mind first time users.

All of the quick releases for the suspension and the hitch arm were attached to the trailer, and the corresponding notches were obvious, at that point, you're almost done with assembly.  The most time consuming part was the hitch attachment, mostly because you want it in a good spot to accept the trailer and give you rack clearance.  The seat belt also takes some time to adjust as it is similar to quality car seats (with the loop around the back adjustment); getting just the right fit for your child is important, so this step is understandable.  That being said, the Singletrailer passed the no instructions test.  


  • Suspension - The suspension system is the biggest draw to the trailer. Tout Terrain doesn't skimp on quality, and there's a high price tag to prove it. The Singletrailer uses a bike-quality Rock Shox suspension.  The savvy design allows you to adjust the position of the shock for road or less aggressive terrain for a shorter suspension travel of 16 cm or for super rocky single track, placing the shock in the longer position gives a full 20 cm (almost 8 inches) of travel. You can also adjust the air pressure to be suited to your child's weight. 

  • Hitch System - When pulling your child in a trailer you want to make sure they're double-y, triple-y, quadrupule-y secured.  The hitch system may look scary at first glance, but that's because it was engineered to articulate in multiple directions to accommodate mountainous terrain.  The hitch attaches at your seat post (make sure you order the correct size for your bike), and the hitch arm attaches to the hitch with a CNC ball bearing joint and is secured with a cotter pin, QR and safety rope.  Add in the 5 point-harness system and the kiddo is quadruple secured.

  • Light! (Seriously, this is amazing) - Yup, the Singletrailer blows away the other child trailers, weighing in at only 9.5 kg or just over 20 pounds.  The Chariot CX1 which I used on the GDT has leaf spring suspension and weighs 35 pounds.  Going up mountains will seem a little easier losing a whole 15 pounds in the rear.

  • 3 Covers for Most Weather Conditions - First of all, the fabric is orange with reflective striping, so it matches my bike.  It's also made of 1000D Cordura, so it's pretty much water proof (we will see!).  The covers snap up when not in use, so you know they won't fall down, and snaps are also used to secure at 4 different points with an added Velcro secure point to keep the bottom flap closed. It's nice to see snaps over Velcro which can wear easily, or wrap style which can pop up when going over bumpy terrain.   

          There are three separate covers :
    1. Mesh Cover
    2. Full Cover
    3. Sun Shade - This is super cool.  Not only does it block the sun, but it's made out of Cordura so, it can act as a rain cover as well when coupled with the Full Cover. 

  • Single Wheel - This one is obvious, but should not be overlooked.  Low rolling resistance, great turning radius, and single-track ready are all unique to this trailer. I also appreciated the included puncture protection of knobby, Kevlar belted Schwalbe Black Jack 20" tire which is almost the same width as my bike tires being 1.9" wide.

  • Child Comfort and Safety - The whole point of this is to share our fun with the kiddos, so they need to be safe in a comfortable way. The padded 5-point harness with puzzle-piece buckle adjusts vertically for height and forward at the crotch buckle, just like a car seat to accommodate a big boy or a petite princess.  The seat is simple but comfy, padded, and breathable with an adjustable back rest. There is no large cargo pouch, but there is space under the seat to put a few toys as well as two mesh pockets on the side for child Nalgene bottles. There is also a vent under the seat that doubles as a dirt drain for loose pebbles from tiny shoes. The windows have UV absorbing for added sun protection.


  • Kickstand - The Kickstand is included with the trailer.  It's a full bar that sits on the ground and acts as a double kickstand by lifting the wheel of the trailer.  It will hold up both bike and trailer.  I will have to see if this also works when I have loaded panniers on the bike. 

  • Isuro Pillow - The pillow is an add on.  It's a super comfy bean bag feeling pillow that attaches to the side of the trailer so your child can lean on it when they get tired without having to slump.  It appears that you have to buy 2 if you want one on each side.

  • Mud Guard - Easy installation next to the shock mount, the fender has 2 holes so that it will work with either position you have your shock installed.


The trailer was all ready to go, except that I needed to mount it.  This proved to be a little awkward.  Single wheel trailers in general are awkward because you have to keep then steady while you mount it.  I find the best way to steady the trailer is to straddle the hitch arm. Since I am short, I don't have much seat post to mount to, and I had to remove my rear rack in order to mount the trailer.

Once mounted, the Singletrailer feels like part of the bike.  I went over all the curbs I could find, did tight circles and crossed grassy terrain (okay, not super hardcore, but pretty good for around the block).  This is really where you can appreciate the intricacies of the hitch and articulation of the hitch arm.  The shock takes the impact, but the hitch system allows the trailer to follow with finesse so there isn't extra lateral movement for your child.  Tout Terrain still has a GREAT! score so far.


Every trailer has some little tweeks that could make it even better.  Here are a few that I might find useful.

1.  Compactability - It would be great if the Singletrailer could fold in half.  The hitch arms fold into the trailer, and the shocks fold flat on the back, but if it could additionally fold in half, plane travel/train/car travel might be easier.

2. Stroller wheels and handlebar - So, this trailer is meant to be off-road, not to stroll through airports, BUT there might be a way to fold allow the hitch arm to fold backwards and act as a handlebar, and just add roller-blade-style stroller wheels onto the kickstand which folds up, and voila! You've got yourself a makeshift stroller to roll through security.  (Can you see it? Just sayin'.)

3. Flag - You might go through towns sometimes, flags are good.

4.  Added ventilation - With experience biking in hot weather, extra vents or zip out windows are helpful. I think a vent behind the head, and at the sides near the feet would be good, and full side zip out windows would be best.

The Tout Terrain Singletrailer isn't for everyone.  It's meant for people who like to mountain bike alot, or live in a rural area where there are only wide expanses of trail for biking.  If you love trail and so does your kiddo, this trailer is quality for everything you want to do. I'm interested to see how I can travel with it on a plane, how the fabric holds up in a rain storm, and Neva's review.  More to come on our preparation for our next off-road adventure.  Happy December everyone!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Passing the Torch

As a parent, there are many opportunities to be proud of your children. Since I have been home schooling Neva for the past 4 weeks, she has given me many reasons to be proud of her with her educational advancements, but the achievements that I'm most proud of are through her own exploration and self-discovery.

Let me back up a little bit.  Neva has seen a lot of this in her day.  Actually over 10,000 miles worth, and who knows how many hours.

That's right, Neva had gotten into my purse which she wanted to hold and keep safe, and decided to photo log the events of her mother.  I can't imagine where she would have come up with such an idea.

Neva also has 4 bikes.  2 of which are outside bikes, and 2 which are inside bikes.  The inside bikes look like this:

The one Neva is riding is a pedal trike, and the one that the 30-year-old, 6 foot 2 inch tall father is riding is a 4-legged strider bike that you push with your feet.  In this epic hat and quad/tricycle race through the house, Neva's pedal power was superior to Christian's method of attempting to sit in a frog like posture and push forward with legs entirely too long for the toys original intent.  This was how she learned about pedals.

And then there are her 2 outside bikes.  The 2-wheeled Strider pedal-less bike Neva mastered at 18 months taught her balance and the need for speed.

Her other outside bike is a 2-wheeled, kids first pedal-bike which is pink with Dora the Explorer on it.  We got it second-hand from our local bike shop and it had a flat tire.  We asked Neva a few times if she wanted to ride it, but she would always go back to the Strider.

Who could blame her?  Children's bikes are heavier than adult bikes, weighing in at over 20 pounds.  over 75% of her body weight!  That would be like pedaling a motor bike without a working motor.

Then one day, we pulled out the wrench and replaced the tiny 12" tire.  Neva decided to try the Dora bike.

She hadn't told us...the bike hadn't been returned to it's typical spot among the rest before Neva grabbed it and rode off on her own.  Wobbly, slow and mindful of her feet, she took off on two wheels by herself; no push except that from her own two feet.  She was so excited, she forgot her helmet.

Easy does it, and then a little faster...

She biked around the entire block which is over 1 kilometer!  Going up a hill, she slowed down a little bit while I jogged beside her.  I could feel her confidence falling as her pedals gave more resistance.  I looked at her, eyes wide, and cheered her on with a fist pump and a huge adoring smile; I was her personal cheerleader.  That was it.  Tiny legs rushed up and down as fast as they could go, and she made it up and over that hill in a flash.  She waited for me at the bottom of the hill. I was smiling, and very pleased and Neva's face reflected the same enthusiasm.  I'm so proud.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Descent Ascent

A few months ago, I happened upon a writing contest in Bicycle Times magazine 12 hours before the due date.  It was for the Tough and Tender 500 word writing contest.  The parameters were to speak about your relationship with a bicycle, from a female perspective.  Well, I didn't win.  But, I decided to share my short story with you here.  It is about mine and Neva's summit to over 10,000 feet in elevation coming from 6900 feet Cuba. I know I've told this story in previous posts, but here is a condensed yet detailed version of the most difficult portion.

Neva giving the peace sign while going up the hill.

We left Cuba, New Mexico three days ago, prepared to be in the wilderness for four days. No access to food, clean water, or civilization. Just me, Neva, and the wild. Neva is my three-year-old daughter and only cycling companion. We will break 10,000 miles together with the completion of this 60 day, 2000 mile off-road bicycle tour of the Great Divide Trail.

This section of the trail in northern New Mexico is not for the faint of heart, and is notoriously known as one of the most difficult portions. A mountain biker’s golden chalice : the sheer thought of which simultaneously conjures up feelings of both desire and agony, pain and triumph.

Camp spot before heading up "the beast"

I pitched our tent last night at the base of the beast, knowing that I would awaken and be staring it in the face. The map reads, “4WD, may need to walk, possible washed out sections…” It continues on with mention of lava rock, sand and double track. I pack the map away; it's not to be looked at for another five miles, when we've reached the summit. The landscape slopes dramatically upwards, gaining elevation quickly; the terrain is strewn in piles of white rocks of every size, packed down and untouched. There are no footprints or tire marks here.

White sand was another diverse terrain obstacle on this short stint up an over mountainous territory.

Gear, check. Baby, check. Here we go. I hop on the bike in my lowest gear and navigate over Paul Bunyan’s marble collection at a snail's pace. The only way I can propel forward is to stand on the pedals and push down with all 98 pounds of strength, as if I want to meld my feet and pedals into one object. The trailer bounces gently, ignorant of it's mass, and my front tire spins under the pull of the weight. I must walk the bike.

I inch step by step over boulders, pushing 150 pounds of bike, child and trailer. My vision tunnels to one purpose, to get to the top. All concept of time has left me now. I take a death grip on the handlebars and my body is at a sharp angle as I try to compete with gravity. Skin glistening, sweat rolls down both sides of my spine and brow while gnats feast on the endless moisture, treating my eyes as a delicacy. Neva no longer rides in the trailer, but chooses to push from behind or walk beside me while I pedal 2.5 miles per hour.

We're down to a single liter of water. A cattle guard shakes the life out of me and I stop from exhaustion. Up ahead, I see a filthy, muddy, mosquito ridden cattle tank. An oasis! The filtered water is ice cold and instantly rejuvenating.

Neva prepared to filter water from the cattle tank.

The crest of the trail. It looks so mundane to the layman, just a downward slope. But that arc will drop us over 3000 feet in elevation. Neva and I stop for the first meal of the day, five hours after we began. A victory feast. Now it’s time to get in some mileage, find a campsite and rest. It’s all downhill from here.*

The next day, we rolled into Abiquiu, covering 37 miles of off-road downhill in less than 4 hours. We rolled up to the only gas station in town, Bode's, and had a sandwich outside. My adrenaline was still pumping from the 180 degree difference between the previous day and the present moment. All of the hard work, rewarded with a fast journey down, and a great meal. I also ran into my friend Cjyell who I had met earlier on the tour. He was heading northbound in the Great Divide Race. Big hugs, a big meal, and a nice stay at the Old Abiquiu Bed and Breakfast, I was absolutely on cloud 9. It is a moment I will never forget.

Cjell's day is only half over.  He will ride far into the night to keep his place in the race.

Cjell has a great blog that you can check out here. This link is to his experience riding the GDT for the 4th time, racing for the second time. About 1/3 of the way down, Cjell talks about when he bumps into us. Here is an excerpt of what he says about his experience riding the Cuba to Abiquiu section of the divide :

"The longer I follow the tracks the more I contemplate how amazingly difficult it must be to navigate and ride over one of the toughest, if not the absolute most difficult sections of the divide, with a trailer, fully loaded, and…and…a f***ing 3 year old!!! That is all i am able to think about as I ride over the extremely rough terrain myself. There is no self pity now. This 95lb girl and her daughter just made it through, I had better be able to right? An her tracks don’t stop. They constantly confront me with this reality."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The ever changing TSA and infant travels

Neva and I travel quite a bit and embark on many an adventure.  We are not exactly low profile with our large futuristic-looking stroller, bright yellow panniers, and adorably cute, socially manipulative toddler who could talk a polar bear out of it's fur.  Yet, with all of the obstacles we encounter, people seem to find our travels through the airport most heroing.

Our first bike tour together.  Neva was 15 months old.  I have 2 bikes, one for me and one for Cass.

I guess when I think about it, going through an airport with a child (or in general), has an equivalent stress level of biking in heavy traffic, or driving a car on the New Jersey turnpike in the middle of a downpour.  The constantly changing rules and regulations don't help matters.  Neither does the fact that your experience is highly reliant on whether your TSA agent got laid that morning or got dumped; and chances are you're not going to bump into Johnny Sunshine at 5:00 am.  I've put together some coping mechanisms, specific language and packing methods which work most of the time.


I stopped counting child flights when the number surpassed 40.  Yeah, lotta flights.  I took advantage of the fact that children under 2 fly for free.  If you're flying overseas, sometimes tax is added on, or sometimes there is a country exit tax (Costa Rica has a $26 exit tax per person, no matter how old), but basically free.  Our $1000 flight to Okinawa, Japan had an extra $52 added on for taxes for Neva; so yeah, free.

A few rules about this caveat:

1.  If the child turns 2 before the return flight, you will be charged FULL fare.  Make sure you get home before their 2nd birthday.

We returned from Peru the day before Neva turned 2 years old.

2.  It used to be that you could only either bring a stroller OR a car seat.  I have found that car seats don't serve us much use internationally because we usually take public transportation buses (easiest to transport bike/trailer), in which case, you can hold the baby in your lap. When bike bound, you wouldn't want to strap a car seat to your trailer anyway, but there is the Nordic Cab bike trailers which does integrate a snap in car seat mechanism.

Neva's first trailer was a Nordic Cab.  She loved it!

When we travel within the US to see family, usually they have car seats, and it's not an issue.  If you're planning on renting a vehicle someplace, car rentals also offer car seats for an extra fee per day.  All that said, I noticed this year that some airlines were allowing both car seat AND stroller.  Make sure to check the rules and regulations on the airline's website to confirm.  If you're unsure about anything, print out the rules as reference and keep it with you, just in case.


Sometimes airlines will have new ideas about infant air travel.  Some are cool, and some are not.

1.  For long flights overseas, some airlines have bassinets which will hold children up to 7 kilos (or a little over 15 pounds). When you are getting your ticket, make sure to ask for one because they will sit you right behind first class since that is where the two holes are for the bassinet to snap into.  You have plenty of leg-room, your baby has a place to stretch out that is not your lap, and you can get out of your seat without worrying about the dreaded 'dead leg' syndrome from lack of circulation. Neva was about 18 pounds when she turned two, so I was able to utilize the bassinet option for most of her lap-seat fare, but lots of kids, especially boys, might be too heavy to utilize this option after one year.

Neva in a bassinet, on Asiana  Air, for the 13 hour flight to Seoul, South Korea.
2.  Flying to Peru, we were given seat belts for the lap infant which looped through my seat belt.  I had always thought this would be on flights, but this was the only time that I had seen it.

3.  On the return flight from Peru, the flight attendant moved a very tired mommy, baby and grandpa from the window seat to squish between other passengers in the center aisle.  Their reasoning was that there were only 2 floatation devices for 3 people...buuut then they moved us to a center aisle where there were 3 floatation devices for 4 people.  That's kind of what having a lap infant is, 2 people in one seat.  The effort to communicate in broken Spanish the intricacies of what was wrong with this picture was too great, so we silently submitted to our squished quarters.

However, on the return flight from Puerto Rico, I noticed a woman with a lap infant was given a perfectly logical solution for this.  She didn't seem to be creeped out when I asked to take a picture of the tiny floatation device the flight attendant had handed her.

Okay, I couldn't find my cool picture, but it looked a lot like this but bundled up.


1.  Remember, ALL AIRLINES HAVE THEIR OWN RULES.  I know this is reiterating #2, but read the rules and regulations on the websites because they change frequently and are not the same for everyone. The rules are typically money based, so if you don't want to get hit with unexpected fees, read thoroughly about the items you intend on bringing.

This was March, 2012.  Before that, I had to remove Neva's shoes in order to get through TSA security.

2.  Read the TSA REGULATIONS. These are pretty arbitrary, so just follow what they say.  For example :  You are allowed to bring a lighter as a carry on, but you can't have it as packed luggage. Other countries have different rules, so keep that in mind too.  On the way back from Peru, my 4" long scissors were confiscated even though the TSA website clearly states that "...any tool 7" or shorter is acceptable".  Other countries don't have any incentive to treat Americans nicely considering all of the extra measures agents have to go through for American security.  Airports in other countries don't check shoes, nor do they abide by fear-based rules set in place by the TSA, except for people coming from and coming to America.

You can't see my scissors in there, but they're in there!

3.  Body scanners - Homeland security decided that additional levels of radiation were okay, but I don't share in that enthusiasm, probably because I'm not getting a share of the profits.  I know radiation comes from everywhere, most of all the sun, however, I don't want to expose my family to more radiation than is necessary, hence the regular use of sunscreen for outdoor activities.  We protect ourselves every chance possible from the sun because radiation doesn't go away.  It builds in the body continuously, and there is only a certain amount that a body can handle in one lifetime.

Usually, when it's just Neva and I, we don't have a problem, but when Christian was there, they picked both him and me to go through.  When the scanners first started showing up, TSA would "randomly" profile (I mean choose) a person to go through the scanner, but now, it seems like they ask everyone to go through.  Exercise your OPT OUT option.  It's not convenient, but it's better than the alternative.  I carry a doctor's note for Neva, but so far, I have yet to have them ask me to frisk the baby.

I hope you enjoyed my basic overview of airport travel with an infant.  Stay tuned for more how-to's and adventures!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Airline Travel - The Attrition of Nutrition at the airport


Neva's first flight was at 6 months old, in 2010.  At that time, women had been forced to dump their breast milk, as absolutely no liquids were able to be brought on the plane.  This didn't prove to be a problem for me because I was still breast feeding, and she didn't really use a bottle, but still a disturbing rule, nonetheless.  The next time I flew with her was when she was 15 months old, in February, 2011.  I didn't want to be hassled about Neva's food, so I decided to bring powdered goat milk as a supplement to breast milk.  Once you get through security, there are drinking fountains on the other side.  I simply could put a scoop in a bottle, add water, and baby had nutritious food.

Now, most of the time when you say, "it's for the baby" the TSA begrudgingly rushes you through.  Sometimes they want to test it, which means opening it up.  Bring things that are re-sealable.  Yogurt is the most annoying, as they will open one up, and then you have to eat it right away.  In general, bring food that you won't be too sad that they'll throw away.  One instance, a TSA agent said he was going to throw out all of my food.  I protested loudly and insisted that another agent come over.  He asked how long my flight was, and I replied 8 hours.  He conceded to not throwing away my food.  ALWAYS play the parent card.  I like to bring kefir because it looks like milk, but is like drinkable yogurt and contains the oh-so-important probiotics which I always recommend when entering into the biological war zone that is the airport. Fresh fruits like apples and bananas are great domestically but can be confiscated by the Department of Agriculture internationally, and pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also quick, easy, straight-forward food choices that don't cause much fuss.

Neva with kefir, granola and dried fruit on the plane.

In another instance, we were going camping in Puerto Rico, and brought lots of camping food in our carry-on.  Checked luggage is charged based on weight, currently 40 pounds (depending on the airline) and carry-on bags don't have a weight limit, only a size limit, so we decided to carry on the heavy stuff.  The TSA ended up throwing away half of our expensive camping food packs because some of them were soupy lentils.  Why having half of what we started with is less of a threat than than all camp food is beyond me.  On the return home, our peanut butter jar was also thrown out.  The agent tested it, and it came up positive for possible explosives.  He explained to me that if we had the jar camping, some soil might have adhered to the jar, which will cause a positive reading.  The agent was very patient and took the time to explain the reasoning behind the confiscation, which I appreciated, and is a very rare trait for the TSA.

The reason for suspicious peanut butter.

You may also notice that there seem to be more layovers than you remember.  Well, airlines don't have to feed you if the flight is less than 6 hours long, so if they can squeeze in a layover to inconvenience you, and not have to relinquish meals, they would rather save the money.  What this means for you is that you're left with terrible tasting, over priced airline food, and you might be the one crying from intestinal cramps on the second leg.  For this reason, in addition to my vegetarian diet, I insist on bringing enough food to sustain my family through to the final destination. Oh yeah, and most airlines don't offer free drinks anymore, so when you finish the bottle of kefir and are stuck at a crappy airport like Fort Lauderdale, you can rinse out your bottle and fill it up with water at the water fountain instead of paying $8 for a bottle of water (not kidding, $8 for a water).

Neva taking in some zzz's for the overnight layover from Lima to Cusco, Peru
The nice thing is that we are all in it together, just trying to make it to our destination.  Jet-lagged, sore and tired, we all shuffle past one another and nod as a universal sign of understanding.  Children make friends pretty quickly, so even among the trivial meandering through an airport terminal, you are still graced with lots of warm smiles...and sometimes delicious homemade food.

A local family offered us a homemade snack, traditional Peruvian holiday pan with bits of colored candy inside.  
More of the airport travel series is coming soon, so stay tuned!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

To Fly or not to Fly - Assessing your Child's Temperment

I know, I know, 'Babies on a Plane' could very quickly turn from a mild-mannered vacation to a full-blown horror movie, but most likely you and your family can succeed.  Here are a few things to consider when combining children and travel.  There are lots of logistics involved in airport travel, so I'll go step by step with the how-to's of infant travel, starting with you and your child.

Hiking with Neva from a young age was a great way to bond, and get her used to being outdoors.

Assessing your child's temperament is an important step, for your sanity, your child's sanity, and everyone around you.  In general, I would say (with absolutely no credentials or scientific backing) that the majority of children should be fine with flying.  The biggest problem that I've seen are with over-protective, first-time mothers.  Giving into the child every time they cry is a recipe for bad plane behavior.

This boils down to parenting style, and there is no right or wrong way, per se, but spoiling and not giving a child an appropriate level of freedom does bring about clingy, crying children.  It's instinct to want to give our child the best of everything, but we are also the trained adult, guiding an adult in training.  Giving them what they need and not focusing on what they want will make them more independent.  Don't worry, Grandma will always be there to help them out with things they want.

As long as the children don't have colic, frequent ear infections, or other physical ailment, most children do well.  It's easier to get them started young so they have the experience of what it feels like.  Here are what I find to be common problems:

1.  Fear of the loud plane take-off sounds

The womb is an extremely loud place, about as loud as a jackhammer at 50 feet away, so babies are used to sound.  Keeping the house quiet when they sleep makes it miserable for parents because they are locked into keeping the baby home in the evenings, and they feel like they can't so much as whisper when baby sleeps.  I believe that a baby should go everywhere with you (obviously, hence the blog).  If she gets tired, she'll sleep, hungry, she'll root, etc.  It's instinct for children to let you know what's going on, and they enjoy sharing in your experiences.

Neva excited to share some traditional Japanese ramen noodles with me.

The day after I brought Neva home from the hospital I started the ritual of vacuuming and doing all of the loud house chores as she slept just so she'd be used to sounds while she slumbered.  The plane noise can be startling, but if you are breast feeding them, they won't even notice that it's different from any other noise.  If your kiddo is naturally jumpy around loud noises, maybe some noise dampening headphones would do the trick, as long as you practice wearing them at home.

Putting a variety of different music on while children are sleeping is another good white noise.

2.  Ears popping from cabin pressure

This one is an easy one as long as your little one doesn't have ouchy ears.  Neva hasn't had an ear infection yet, going on almost 4 years, but I know it can be common for some children as their ear canal is growing.  Take note if your child is tugging at their ears often.  If they have healthy ears, breast feeding at take-off and landing is the easiest way to keep them occupied when they are very young.  If they are past breast-feeding stage, drinking water helps.  However, if they are accustomed to flying, the sensation won't be a new one, and they will have learned how to cope with it.

The suck from a straw, bottle or breast-feeding is a gentle way to relieve air pressure build up.

3.  Upset tummy

My intent was not to talk about breast feeding, but in my experience, breast feeding Neva made the actual plane rides enjoyable for both of us during her first year.  For children with sensitive stomachs, try to only give them food that you know works for them.  Don't bring well-known gas-forming foods like broccoli or spinach.  And then there is colic, which is a very painful intestinal problem for children 3 weeks - 1 year old.  It's basically extremely painful gas and intestinal irritation.  Formula-fed babies are more prone to it, probably because high levels of soy protein can give anyone gas, and baby tummies are even more sensitive.  If you have a baby with colic, assess how they act on a normal basis, and maybe consult your physician for preventative measures.

No broccoli for baby before a flight!
4.  Personality

Every child is a unique snowflake, right?  So, I'm sure there are some kiddos that don't do well, despite meeting the above points.  Ask yourself how they do on car rides or bike rides.  Do they fall asleep shortly after getting buckled in?  Do they coo and look at the world flying passed them?  Do they enjoy being around lots of people?  If yes to all of these, they'll be plane superstars and everyone will say what a good baby you have.  If your child cries in the car, and the very thought of driving a long distance causes you to develop a twitch and rising feeling of doom, then maybe you should consider an alternate mode of transport.