I think it is safe to say that we 'frequent' Las Vegas. Between my husbands healthy love for poker and my unhealthy addiction to the sun, it has always been a win-win for us. It's a quick and easy flight and if you aren't big on gambling, it can actually be a very affordable destination. Since we got married, we've visited sin city more times than I'd like to admit, and we've always loved it. Enter sweet baby boy. While many things in our lives have changed with the arrival of our tiny one, it turns out Mitchell still has a healthy love for poker, and I still lust after the scorching hot sun. What's a Vegas-loving couple to do?
GO TO VEGAS! That's what.
Honestly speaking, I was the woman in Vegas who shook my head at the mom pushing her stroller down the sin-ridden strip and said, "Why on EARTH would you bring your child to this disgusting place?" In those moments, I remember telling my husband that we would NEVER bring a child to Vegas. For so many reasons...
It is virtually impossible to avoid smoke, which is dangerous for those tiny lungs. The temperature can get out of control and overheating is a serious risk for young babies. I really don't want my child exposed to pornography at the tender age of 6 months. You can't comfortably take a baby anywhere in a city designed for adults.
Taking a baby to Vegas is the Worst. Idea. Ever.... Right?
Does this look like the worst idea ever to you?
As I sit here by the pool, palm trees overhead, delightful drink in hand, and a happy baby by my side, I promise you, it is not the worst idea ever. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Our goal since Lincoln left his non-stop screaming days behind (read my post on Colic here) has been to do life WITH our baby. And with a flexible and positive attitude, not only can you do life with a baby, but life and all of it's beautiful adventures only get better.
Here are my 3 tips for traveling successfully with your baby:
- Set reasonable expectations. If you go to Vegas with the expectation that you're going to party hard every night, dine at fancy restaurants, and sleep in until 11am, you are probably going to be disappointed. We have never been big partiers, nor have we ever been in a position to drop wads of cash on 5-star dining experiences, so for us this isn't a huge adjustment.
- Put your Flexible Hat on. I am absolutely an advocate of keeping things consistent for your baby. Lincoln tends to do best when we stick to a similar routine as far as naps and meals are concerned. That said, a few days here and there on vacation where things are 'out of whack' are not going to kill the child. No really, I promise. This does not mean throw naps out the window and change every single thing, but for your own sanity, be okay in advance with things being a little different and remember that it's only for a short time.
- Keep some things familiar. (insert joke about being a flip-flopper here.) Not to completely contradict point 2, but there is most certainly a balance of being flexible and maintaining some familiarity, for your child's sake. I do just a few things when traveling to keep things familiar for Lincoln even though much of his environment is different. For nap times, I bring the same noise maker, sleep sack, and stuffy that he sleeps with at home. We use the same nap-time or bed-time routine (reading a book, singing a song, and nursing) and bring a familiar or favorite toy for playtime. Pretty simple, basic things, and its usually enough to help Lincoln relax in his new environment.
Here are our favorite things to do in Vegas with baby:
Swim. The pool is delightful, and even the youngest of babies can get in on the fun with appropriate preparation. We bring a fantastic floating device like this one with us and it is perfect for allowing Lincoln to play safely and still be shielded from the sun.
Walk. We do bring our stroller with us when we visit Vegas, mainly because we love to walk the strip and through the many hotels. See the sights and shop like you normally would, with baby in tow!
This little one loved watching the volcano at the Mirage explode
Eat. There are so many places to dine in Vegas and many of them are an experience in and of themselves. As long as you're not going to a fancy restaurant, it is absolutely acceptable to bring baby along. If he or she is old enough for a high chair, that's easy peezy. And believe it or not most restaurants you visit in Vegas do have high chairs for your use. Otherwise, we bring the car seat or stroller in and set him on the table or in the booth next to us.
Attractions. There are a LOTS of attractions that really are easy to do with a baby, and lots of fun, too! Last trip, we did the High Roller Ferris Wheel. Lincoln (who is quite a dare devil) absolutely loved it. Really, really easy with a baby.
Lincoln checking out the city from 550' up on the High Roller Wheel
We also recently visited Top Golf at the MGM and it was a BLAST! A splurge financially but it was so easy to park his stroller next to our booth and drink, eat, and play for several hours without even the slightest hiccup. I highly recommend this activity if your little one is small enough to be content in his or her stroller for a while.
Although I haven't visited the Springs Preserve myself, a good friend of mine recently did with her two year old and she said it was absolutely perfect for families. Check it out here!
What you will need to skip:
Shows. Most do not allow children, which completely makes sense. Do you really want me sitting next to you with my fussy infant during the show that you just paid a billion dollars to see? I think not.
Fancy restaurants. Although there's not (usually) a rule against bringing kids into fine dining establishments, I think of it as more of a courtesy.
Gambling together. When Lincoln goes down for the night, Mitchell does too. Down to the casino to play poker, that is, while I stay in the room and get some much needed reading, sleeping, trashy TV show watching done. So while you can't exactly gamble together since someone has to be with the baby, you can still gamble. For us this is not a big deal because I have never gambled and Mitchell doesn't need me to accompany him at the poker table.
A few more tips...
Stay somewhere with a good ventilation system. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want is for my child to be sucking in a cloud of second hand smoke for four days straight. There are lots of hotels on the strip that either do not have a casino, or that have better ventilation systems than others. There are hotels that I will not stay at or even visit because the smell of smoke is so thick as soon as you walk in.
Bring the stoller. Typically I prefer not to travel with my stroller because I love the Ergo and it's a hassel to have the extra luggage. That said, Vegas is a place that the stroller will most definitely come in handy. Whether its for the copious amount of walking that you do, or parking your sweetheart next to your sun chair by the pool so he or she can be shaded and comfortable, you won't regret it. For some specific tips on doing airport security with a baby and how I use the stroller for that process, visit my post TSA with Baby.
Bring a grandparent. I'm joking. Well, not really. I know this one isn't exactly always possible, but it sure does help when it is! Grandma and grandpa joined us on one of our most recent trips, and it was really nice to have a couple extra sets of loving hands to push, chase, carry, retrieve choking hazards, etc. Also, when you bring the grandparents along you might actually have the opportunity to go down to the casino as a pair or out to a show or nice dinner.
I am not going to lie to you and tell you that Vegas will be the same with a baby. It won't. But if you approach your vacation with the right mindset, do a little planning ahead, and go with the baby flow a little, you can most definitely have a wonderful vacation and adventure. Viva Las Vegas!