“Do you think she’ll be ok on the drive?”
“Do you think she’ll sleep all right in a new place?”
How will she handle the noise? The chaos with lots of people, dogs, bikes all over the place? The heat? How will she nap? What about things we haven’t even thought of to worry about??
These were our thoughts as ThrottleDaddy and I prepared for our first moto track weekend as a family of three. He would ride and I would take care of ThrottleGirl the first day, and we’d switch for the second day. We considered everything from bringing her cosleeper to making a redneck air conditioner for our pit to buying a special bouncer thingy just for the trip. We did buy some ear protection for her, which of course we did not end up using. Taking a leap of faith, we packed our bikes, our riding gear, and half the contents of the nursery into our truck, and headed out into the unknown.
We did the two hour drive to the track on Friday night, leaving around ThrottleGirl’s bedtime hoping that she would sleep on the way. She must have been stirred up by the packing and odd behavior as she stayed awake for most of the drive – but she was happy and quiet, just playing with her toys and looking out the window. We arrived around 10pm, got a room with two queen beds, and settled in for the night. ThrottleDad got up early and drove to the track to unload, register, go through tech inspection, etc, and the baby and I slept in. We joined our group a little later in the morning after we had woken up, nursed, had coffee, etc. It was nice to be able to take our time in the morning – bringing a baby anywhere at an appointed time is tough.
Once at the track, she spent the day in the ring sling, sitting on friends’ laps, nursing and napping in the clubhouse, and sitting in her Bumbo chair. ThrottleGirl just checked things out, smiling at people, enjoying all the attention.
I took her over to watch bikes fly down the front straight and into Turn 1 on Thunderhill Raceway’s East track, probably the loudest part of the track. She jumped when the first bike zoomed past, but after that she just watched them blow by like it was nothing.
So, all in all it was a great experience. We both enjoyed having her with us, she was not bothered by the environment one bit as long as mom or dad was with her, and nothing that we were worried about turned out the be an issue. Here’s what we learned:
- Baby wearing – You need some way to move your baby from place to place without having to carry her in your arms. For us, this was baby carriers (ring sling for me and a soft structured carrier for dad). I’ve been wearing ThrottleGirl since she was born, and she is very content hanging out this way. We brought a stroller, but didn’t use it. I think wearing her helped keep her happy.
- Baby containment – You need somewhere safe to put your baby down when you are not wearing her. Depending on your baby’s age, this could be a swing or rocker, a high chair, a Pack ‘N Play, or something similar. ThrottleGirl is just learning to sit up on her own, and tends to tip over whenever something takes her attention away from sitting up. So, we brought her Bumbo seat.
- Baby sleep location – our baby napped either on my lap after nursing or in the baby carriers. If your baby won’t nap in either of those locations, you may need to get more creative. We were prepared to take ThrottleGirl for a ride in the truck to get her to fall asleep, but that turned out to be unnecessary. YMMV.
- A table – because babies have a lot of crap – sometimes literally – and its just easier to have it at waist height rather than in a pile on the ground. Changing diapers on your knees on the asphalt is a PITA, as is digging through your ten bags of crap on the ground with one hand while on one knee with a squirming baby in the other arm.
I would also suggest you bring an open mind and a sense of adventure, but if you are bringing a baby to a motorsports event in the first place you probably already have those bases covered. I must say both ThrottleDaddy and I were extremely pleased with how well the weekend went, and were really happy to be able to enjoy track time as a family for the first time.
If you have done this yourself and have any tips, or want to do this and have any questions, please leave me a comment.