Recently my family and I packed up the car and set off on a 4.5-hour road trip to Mudgee. I have a three-year-old daughter and a five-month-old son. Miss Three is very well travelled. She’s taken over 25 flights and been on countless road trips including an RV adventure around New Zealand. We’ve also become used to her being a mini-human and practically doing all the things that us big humans can do; like sitting on lounges, sleeping in normal beds and using the shower.
I’ll blame sleep deprivation, but when it came to Mr Five Months I had completely forgotten about the considerations you need to make when travelling with a baby. Like, arranging a port-a-cot, taking a playmat, and generally having everything on hand to make a baby-safe environment.
So we turned up at our quaint Airbnb which was everything it had promised to be on the website, but within 30 seconds I realised my oversight.
My husband walked in to see me turning in circles in the middle of the loungeroom. “What are you doing?” he said. I was looking for somewhere to lay the baby but all I could see were hard, ancient, polished floorboards with gaps in them. “I can’t put him down,” I said. With an exhausted look, my husband returned to the car and made 75 trips in and out to transfer all of our stuff (why do you need so much “stuff” with kids?).
On trip 63 or so, he carried in the Fisher-Price On-The-Go Baby Dome that I had been given the opportunity to trial. I was hit with a wave of relief. I found a towel, lay Mr Five Months on it and quickly unfolded the dome. It was super easy. Grab the feet, pull them out and everything just popped into place. The base of the dome is suspended, so despite the floor being cold and hard, I was able to put bub straight in and comfortably leave him to help my husband with the remaining "stuff". Bub was happily engaged in the toys hanging over head which gave us 15 minutes of hands free unpacking time!
By this stage Miss Three was sick of opening every cupboard door in the place, so we headed outside to jump in the autumn leaves. I picked up bub and my husband carried the Baby Dome (still in its assembled position) into the backyard. We set it up on the grass and angled it so that he could still see us but was also protected from the sun by the UPF 20+ canopy (and no bugs could get in...phew!). Before long, Miss Three had hopped in with bub and turned it into a helicopter – unimpressed with Mudgee; they were off to South America she tells me.
While our accommodation had provided a port-a-cot, to be honest it was almost as old as the heritage-listed home we were staying in, so I opted to sleep my son in the On-The-Go Dome instead.
He loved it. I sense that he felt more secure in the enclosed space and the canopy blocked out any interesting distractions and light around the room.
We used the Dome right across the weekend. And when it came time to pack up and go home, rather than look like two pelicans trying to fit a watermelon in a balloon, I simply folded the dome back together and carried it out to the car. My husband was cheering. Only a week earlier after folding down a port-a-cot he had sent me a text saying "The achievement for humanity created by flying to the moon, was undone the moment one of us created that thing". If you’ve ever gone into battle with a port-a-cot, you’ll empathise.
Now we’re at home, I’ve realised that the Dome isn’t just great for travelling. With both an energetic three year old and a curious cat, I have never been able to leave bub on the floor in the loungeroom and duck to the loo – for precaution I’ve always put him in his bed. Now however, I can safely leave him in his enclosed little dome and trust that he’s safe for the few minutes I’m away.
I wish I had been aware of this product sooner. It would have been incredibly handy when he was younger and I could have been using it when we visited his grandparents, rather than having to take the bulky pram inside for him to sleep in. He’s five months old now though, so he'll soon be too big to sleep in it - but I suspect I will be able to use it as an enclosed, safe environment until he’s around 10 months old and starts to pull himself up on things.
This will be on my go-to list for baby showers moving forward, especially for families who travel a lot and have curious pets and toddlers running around. I’ll also be sporting a smug look when visitors descend on our home with a port-a-cot in tow!
How do you make travelling with a baby easier? Share in the comments below!
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Fisher-Price™.
Since 1961, Fisher-Price™ has been testing the functionality, quality, fun and excitement of all our toys and baby gear with parents and kids themselves. Squeals of delight, sighs of contentment, giggles of joy … those are some of the reactions we hope for from families using our baby gear and toys. There’s a less visible one, too: peace of mind. Because Fisher-Price toys and baby gear are put through the wringer long before landing in your living room.