Helllllooo! Its been a while since I wrote – been busy with work, added work from nanny on leave, then nanny sick, and then managing to scram together wardrobe for a Big Fat Indian Wedding (that requires at least four glamorous outfits!) for Arya and myself, and also getting everything planned and ready for Arya’s first birthday party that’s coming soon! Phew!
Finally got my head above water for a couple of peaceful hours to write this. Well – here it goes: I am going to first share some useful tips and then tell you about how the Hotel and the arrangements were conducive to baby.
Weddings, particularly the Big Fat Indian Weddings, can be intimidating for your baby – so many new people to meet, larger than life venues, loud music, loud relatives, extravagant food, can all add up to an intense experience for the little one. Here are the few things I did to get baby through a wedding we recently attended:
What the F! (Food…silly!): Ok, so everyone constantly worries about managing food for the baby so I am going to start here. I took Ragi flour for porridge, and formula from home. The rest we managed at the venue. Since Arya is now over 11 months old she eats everything (and loves to try new things) so I fed her whatever we found at the wedding spread – fruits, idli, and yogurt (available at most Indian breakfast buffets), and ragi porridge made good breakfast. Rice and yogurt were the most reliable options at lunch – I let her sneak in a rice papad as a treat too. Also took this opportunity to introduce fish and chicken through small bites of baked fish and soft malai chicken kebabs. Tomato and mozzarella sandwiches served at tea-time made good for Arya’s dinner. Again, I relaxed my food rules a little to give her foods I wouldn’t normally give her at home. Now this may not work so well if the baby is between 6-10 months old – I think food-wise that is the most difficult age for both the babies and us because they are just learning to eat solids. If the baby is in that age range I recommend carrying more eating options from home, such as processed baby cereals or packaged baby food. Babies younger than 6 months are the easiest because they are mostly on breastmilk or formula anyway.
- Get Some Help!: While I usually don’t like to take the nanny on vacation, I highly recommend either taking your nanny or arranging a good babysitter if you are taking a baby to a wedding. This can really help you stick to the baby’s nap and sleep schedule – you can have the help watch the baby nap/sleep in the room while you get ready for the ceremonies, or attend the ceremonies. They can also help feed the baby so you don’t get food all over that expensive dress! It is also extremely helpful when you want to catch an extra hour of sleep in the morning because you were out dancing until late.
Stick to schedule: Babies are creatures of habit and schedule (at least mine is!) so as much you can, try to stick to their eating, sleeping, and playing schedule. This will give the baby one less reason to be cranky and uncomfortable in the new place. Also worked out great for me because all the parties were in the evening after 8pm, and Arya goes to sleep like clockwork between 6:30-7pm, giving me ample time to get ready and enjoy the party. I tried to keep her awake for one of the events but by 8pm she was absolutely tired and cranky – I didn’t want to push the poor baby beyond her limit and sent her to the room to sleep.
- Give her ample attention: I know we have a million relatives to hug and meet and catch up with at weddings but the baby still needs the parents’ attention to feel loved and safe. Take some time out to spend it alone talking to or playing with just the baby. I used to take her to breakfast alone, and feed her while I ate, and then take her to the hotel lawn to play with her for a while. Throughout the day I would find moments to take her away from the wedding madness and give her some uninterrupted mommy (or daddy) time. This really helps her feel safe and loved despite the overwhelming surroundings.
Keep her comfortable: I wanted a daughter so I could dress her up with all the cute accessories and clothes I could find. But since having one, I have realized that fashion comes second – her comfort is primary. I made a choice not to dress her in any Indian wear for the wedding because the fabrics and the designs did not seem comfortable for a baby to me. I stuck to dresses made from or lined with comfortable natural fabrics. I stuck a clip in her hair for like 15 minutes, and promptly removed it once she had been seen and photographed! Again, this eliminated one more reason for crankiness.
- Don’t force her to “like” everyone: babies self-select whom they will hang out with. I do not force Arya to go to a relative if I think she is not comfortable with them. She was instantly and perfectly comfortable with an uncle whom she had never met before, and absolutely refused to even acknowledge an aunt who claimed that all kids love her. Once I forced her to go to someone she wasn’t confortable with – she got extremely cranky and clingy when she came back to me. Encourage them to meet people but don’t force it.
And now for the elements of this wedding trip that made my experience so much more comfortable:
The Hotel: As a mom, I absolutely LOVED the hotel we stayed at – Pullman Hotel, Delhi. The rooms were decently sized, clean, and well equipped; there was ample outdoor space for baby to play; and most of all – the service was amazing. It’s the little things hotels do to make you comfortable that elevate the service levels from average to just plain brilliant. Each time the waiters saw me with the baby at breakfast they promptly brought the baby chair out. They put up with Arya throwing napkins and spoons on the floor with a smile, and get this – offered to baby sit her while I ate my breakfast. They said they have a baby sitting service that can take care of her while I eat if I would like that. I was absolutely floored by this offer (although I chose not to avail this service because I had a nanny with me). They were not fussy about the fact that I came to breakfast twice every morning – once with Arya at 8am, and again to enjoy a peaceful cup of morning coffee with Saurabh at 9:30am, while Arya was napping. The room service and housekeeping staff were also quick to cater to all our requests for extra water, sheets, towels, and what not. Two thumbs up for the management and staff here!
A caring partner: Last but definitely not the least – Saurabh was extra caring not just for Arya (filling the bath tub for her to splash in every evening) but for me too. He knew I hadn’t slept much the night before, and we had been out polishing off bottles of vino all afternoon with my favorite cousins – so he booked me into the spa at the hotel to catch a nap on the massage table… because there was no napping in the room with Arya there! The little things husbands do to make you happy! I am definitely getting a lot of the boys in trouble with this one, but hey hope this inspires them too. Mommies just need some wine and spa sometimes!