Simply put … I Mardi Gras with a baby and toddler because I Mardi Gras-ed when I WAS a baby and a toddler.
I have so many childhood Mardi Gras memories and each one is a treasure to me. Parading with kids can be a lot of work, but I’m so glad my parents did it with me and my siblings and now I get to do it with my kids. I remember the excitement with each approaching float, begging my dad to put me on his shoulders. I remember I had this theory that if I didn’t wear any of the beads I caught, maybe the float riders would think I hadn’t caught anything yet and take pity on me and throw me lots and lots. HA! It warms my soul to think back on those times and make new memories with my children.
This year we will have a 5 year old, 2 year old, and a 4 month old. We will likely make it to as many parades as we can because that’s what we do. We do what we need to to make it work. Last year, my then 4 year old and I made it to 17 or so different krewes. Some of them my husband would stay back with the then 1 year old (he’s not quite as hardcore as me), and some all 4 of us would go to. We usually make a plan at the beginning of the season and go from there.
If this will be your first Mardi Gras with a baby and / or toddler and you’re feeling unsure, I say go for it!
A great first parade I think is the Krewe of Little Rascals. It’s a daytime Metairie parade and the krewe is made of kids for kid parade goers. Another can’t miss parade in my house is Tucks. It is an Uptown day parade the Saturday before fat Tuesday. They are generous with the throws and the theme is bathroom centered. My boys love catching toilet paper, bedazzled toilet plungers and cleaning brushes, as well as little plastic toy potties. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love that?
Make a plan and get out there!
When I know we are all going to to a parade or day of parades, I make sure we are prepared but also try and be as flexible as I can be. We might make it all day or we might have to leave earlier than expected. I make sure we have snacks and drinks, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer, somewhere close by we can potty, camping chairs and our wagon, a ball the kids can play with while we wait for the parade to get to our spot, noise canceling headphones for the littlest ears, for the years we have a small baby a carrier of some sort is a must, plus a bag for trash and a bag for all of our throws. It can be a lot, but once you get in the routine of it, it just becomes second nature. Throw all of that in the wagon and we’re off.
The best advice I can give is to just try and let your expectations go and have fun. During carnival season I don’t stress about nap times, bed times are very flexible, our diets are more focused around what we can easily eat and access on the parade route. My car and house stay a little messier than I would like. But hey, it’s only once a year and we’re having fun and making memories.