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Bringing the Baby

Packing For an Infant

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When you pack for a cruise with an infant, be prepared to lug a lot of "equipment." You may be calling in places that don't have the formula or baby food your child is used to, so you'll have to carry it all. Second word of advice: Get organized ahead of time, and don't leave all the packing logistics until the night before you leave.

You'll have to calculate how much formula, baby food, diapers and wipes you'll need for the duration of the cruise. Most lines do not sell any of these products on board, and those that do sell diapers, like Disney, have extremely high prices. While we usually give my son Ethan ready-to-feed formula, we put him on powder for the cruise, and bought bottled water in port or from the ship's bar. As for baby food, Gerber now makes its fruit in plastic unbreakable containers. But you'll have to decide whether you want to carry the glass vegetable jars by hand if you are flying, or risk possible breakage by packing them. We took the safe route and packed the jars in one of our carry-on bags.

We packed all non-breakable bulky products (diapers, wipes, cans of powdered formula) in a large box and checked it at the airport. The box is a good idea, because you will use up these products during the cruise, and you can throw away the box and have one less piece of luggage for the trip home. One CruiseMates.com reader on the family site sent these products via express mail to the ship's homeport. However, this is a very costly way to go.

You will also have to decide whether to buy a plane ticket for your little one under two years old and bring his/her car seat, or if you will hold the child on your lap. As you probably know, children under two years fly for free as long as they sit on an adult's lap. However, this is not the safest way to go if there is turbulence.

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If you do bring the car seat, you'll have to carry it through the airport unless you have a combination stroller/car seat. You can purchase this handy product at One Step Ahead (www.onestepahead.com). If you do have a car seat, don't expect any tour buses or even all cabs to have seat belts to secure it once you are at your destination. Carnival just started offering strollers to rent aboard the Carnival Pride, thus eliminating one more thing to bring on your cruise. The cost is $6 per day or $25 per week.

Even though little ones tend to make a lot of dirty laundry, you should not have to bring tons of clothes and bibs if the ship has laundering facilities. Check the deck plan prior to your cruise to see if there are public laundry facilities. If so, you might want to bring a bit of your own laundry detergent just in case. Other things to remember to pack: baby bottles and extra nipples, baby spoon and bib, swim diapers, any pediatric over-the-counter medicines, pacifiers, insulated bag for keeping bottles cool, and books and toys to amuse your child during the flight and at dinnertime on the ship.

The most important thing of all is to change your expectations prior to the cruise. My husband and I did this on our first cruise with baby Ethan. At the start, we told each other which things we would like to do solo during the cruise. That way, each of us took turns giving the other some periodic free time while one stayed with the kids. You won't have endless hours of leisure time to sun on deck or work out, but you will have some free time to enjoy your infant without the daily pressures you face at home. You will also have a chance to explore different ports to some extent without having to repack each time. And when you consider all that one needs to pack when cruising with a baby, that is a big consideration!

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