So, we took our baby to Vegas.
It wasn't that bad actually. Harris really enjoyed himself. And we had a good time, maybe even better since we felt compelled to be in the room by a decent hour. It's been a few years since we've been to Vegas. I think the last time may have been Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya. All the City Center development is new to us. It was fun exploring. It was also nice to revisit some of our old favorites like Mix. We stayed in the Encore, Wynn's second tower. The Wynn properties aren't known for being child friendly, but we experienced no problems. They don't allow strollers on the property, unless you have a tag showing you are a guest. No one ever asked us for proof though. They provided the nicest hotel crib I've ever seen. Harris loved it immediately and went straight to sleep 2 hours upon arrival. Their pool is nice and at 8am when Harris was ready to go, not crowded at all. Harris is at an age where you don't have to take him anywhere special, as long as he can run around a bit. So all of the shopping malls were a great place to spend time during the day. And he enjoys eating at restaurants, so we were able to take him to a few places we had wanted to try. He loved the buffet.
But obviously you don't go to Vegas for your baby. So in order to get in some adult time, you have to find appropriate childcare. Who do you trust with your child when traveling though? In Europe we had always borrowed friend's nannies or turned in early enjoying our evenings of Tuscan views with a glass of wine while the baby slept. Obviously in Vegas, you don't go to bed early! We ended up using a babysitter found on sittercity.com. I highly recommend the site for sitters in a new city. I know a lot of people use care.com which I haven't tried. Sittycity.com was great in that it allows you to choose a second zip code to search included in the base membership price. We were able to search for people, interview them, and gather references well in advance. Our sitter, Katie, worked out great. I felt really comfortable leaving my child with her. And she was a third of the price the hotel would have charged for a babysitting service. So would I take a baby to Vegas again? Yes, I would if I didn't have a good solution to leave them at home. But I think there is probably an age range that is acceptable to me. Maybe somewhere around 1-3 years. Harris had a lot of fun, but I'm not sure how much an older child would enjoy it.
Oh, and Harris did great on the flights! These flights were my test run for toddler flight entertainment in advance of our big flight to Norway this summer. The first flight, he was pretty antsy. It was right during his afternoon naptime. But we kept him entertained well enough. On the way home, he had no problem falling asleep for a little snooze in my lap.
I came loaded up with both high-tech and low-tech activities. He really enjoyed the new KidzGear headphones I got him specifically for the airplane...when we were home. They fit perfectly and have a volume control on the wire which will keep them from damaging their ears. When we used them on the flight though, he wouldn't keep them on more than 5 minutes. I'm not sure why. But he still seemed just as interested in his episode of Elmo downloaded from iTunes without the sound. I think he'll settle into using the headphones more after a few more tries. We tried it again on a car ride and at first he was taking them off, but eventually got used to them. We'll see. I tried out a few new apps as well. Goodnight Safari is excellent and we both enjoyed it. The illustrations are sweet and engaging. When Harris wouldn't show interest in anything else on that first naptime flight, we went back to our favorite app. Charley Harper's Peekaboo Forest. Harris can play with it for at least 20 minutes without getting bored. I wish they'd add a few more scenes, but the repetition doesn't seem to bother him.
I also brought sticker books and flashcards. We love our Eric Carle flashcards. We use them all the time at home. So I thought he'd enjoy them on the plane. They were the least successful. I wouldn't call them unsuccessful because he still enjoyed them. But with all the distractions on the plane, they didn't hold his attention for long. I will definitely bring them on the 10 hour flight to Norway though because I think just having different kinds of activities will help break up the monotony of being relatively still that long. The sticker concept was new to him and kept him quite distracted just learning how to get them to stick to the paper and not his fingers. So that worked well also. I'd say we got 15-20 minute stretches out of the stickers, which for $1.50 is an excellent value. Whereas, the Elmo episodes gave us close to a solid 30 minutes of happiness and are a bit pricier, but can be watched over and over again!
I feel a lot more confident in my 10-hour-solo-with-a-toddler flight adventure than I did before this trip. I know a lot more about what will work for us and what won't.