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Wow! It’s Wednesday! Ten Tips for Traveling with a Baby on a Cruise to Mexico

So just in case any of you were thinking of taking a cruise with your toddler, I compiled the following list of random advice while I was on our very first cruise as a family:

1. If your toddler has a security blanket, buy an extra one for her to drag around the ship and especially for port days.

2. Bring lots of capri pants and dress bottoms. We only brought one set of capri pants, not knowing that we’d find tons of cute Mexican dresses for Betty. She ended up wearing those capri pants with everything, and we wished we had thought to bring more.

3. Most cruise ships only have showers, which your baby will probably hate. Be prepared to come up with a new nighttime routine. After two shower tantrums (more traumatizing for us than Betty), we put a YO GABBA GABBA video on the iPad and gave Betty a soapy washcloth rubdown while she enjoyed her show.

4. Make a babysitting schedule that allows both you and your partner an hour or two of alone time every day. On sea days, CH took Betty in the early mornings, then I took her in the late afternoons, which gave us each some time on our own to do what we wanted. I exclusively used this time to read while CH took photographs and explored the ship. Either way, we both got to relax and felt like we got a true vacation.

5. Don’t necessarily expect to take advantage of dining in the fancy dining room. It ‘s an hour-long three-course meal, and your kid is probably used to getting out of the high chair as soon a she clears her plate. It took us seven whole days to finally come up with a iPhone-security blanket-Craisins system that kept Betty occupied throughout the dinner. Hindsight being 20/20, we probably should have just taken her up to the buffet and called it a day.

6. If you’re on a Royal Caribbean ship, take advantage of the Royal Tots Fisher Price playgroups. It’s a great way to meet other parents on the ship and though you stay in the room with your child, it’s not nearly as intense as keeping her occupied with only a few toys in your tiny cabin.

7. Bring more diapers than you think you’ll need. We brought two more a day than Betty usually goes through, only to run out toward the end. For whatever reason, babies poop way more on ships — probably because of the change of diet — so go ahead and bring twice as many as you think you’ll need. They didn’t sell diapers on the Royal Caribbean and before Housekeeping came through with a package, we had a few scary hours where we thought we’d have to make Betty a cloth diaper out of dinner napkins and safety pins.

8. Bring extra snacks. Ships have tons of food, yes, but nothing beats a beloved snack food to bribe your toddler into decent behavior in unfamiliar places.

9.  Bring along a basic baby guide. There’s wi-fi on cruise ships, but they charge you 90s-era fees for the privilege of connecting, so chances are you won’t have 24/7 access. I had no idea how often I consulted the internet for every little toddler question. I found myself wishing that I had brought along or downloaded a baby guide, so that I could look things up the old fashioned way.

10. Bring a baby monitor if you have adjoining rooms. Our cabin was pretty soundproof and when we were all in one room, while Betty slept in the other, we couldn’t hear her at all. Luckily we’re nerds, so we just set up a webcam iChat between CH’s and my laptops, using the “web conversation” to monitor the room  — but simply bringing along a baby monitor would have done the trick, too.

Bonus Tip: Bring along a set of walkie-talkies. You have no idea how dependent you’ve become on calling and text messaging until you’re stuck on a ship without the ability to do either. We kept losing each other and having to go back to our cabins in the hopes that the family member we were searching for would show up, too. We broke down and bought some over-priced walkie-talkies on the second day, but you can probably find some way cheaper if you think ahead.

So that’s my advice for taking a cruise with a toddler. Do you have any tips for traveling by sea with wee ones? Let us know in the comments!