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When our daughter Olivia was born late last year, my husband and I wondered if our days of international travel were over. Would she be able to handle a long plane ride without torturing fellow passengers? What kind of itinerary would be feasible given daily naps and regular diaper changes? Rather than be paralyzed by worry, we decided to test the waters with a trip to New York when she was 10 months old.
The first challenge was the plane, but our arsenal of crunchy snacks, new toys and smart technology kept tears at bay almost entirely. Then we eased into the chaos of the Big Apple with a few days in milder Brooklyn — whiling away hours in Prospect Park, picking up lunch at the local farmers’ market, boutique shopping in family-friendly Prospect Heights and picnicking under the Brooklyn Bridge at weekend food fest Smorgasburg. On a daily basis, Olivia impressed us. She would nap in her stroller despite crowds and humidity and entertain herself on subway rides by making eyes at perfect strangers.
For the latter part of our trip, we relocated to the Upper East Side, just three blocks from Central Park. We spent one day searching for gurgling waterfalls in the less traversed North Woods. The following morning, we devoured pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company before cruising through Chelsea Market and the elevated High Line park. Olivia took it all in stride. When she got squirmy in her stroller we would take a break at the nearest public park, and she would giggle as we pushed her in a swing. If she could talk, I’m pretty sure she would say our park stops were the best part of the trip.
Though my husband and I missed out on late-night dinners and theater performances this time around, we enjoyed seeing the city through Olivia’s eyes and came to appreciate the slower pace of travel required when toting a baby. Better yet, surviving the urban jungle of New York made us confident that we can take on any destination. Who knows where Olivia will end up next?