Marisol Nichols’ Blog: Tricks of the Trade

08/19/2010 at 09:00 AM ET
Picking blueberries – Courtesy Marisol Nichols

Thanks for welcoming PEOPLE Moms & Babies’ newest celebrity blogger — Marisol Nichols!

The actress and husband Taron Lexton are parents to 22-month-old daughter Rain India.

After spending the spring and summer based in Shreveport, Louisiana as she filmed The Gates, Nichols, 36, is now back home in California and reflecting on her recent experience down South.

In this week’s blog, Nichols talks about her tips and tricks for flying with her little girl, as well as how she kept Rain entertained in Shreveport — with Gymboree, Target, blueberry picking and taxidermied animals!

Nothing really prepared me for the amount of work, or the amount of rewards, that came with being a new mom. It was a whole new world for me, and what I found invaluable was the advice and experience of my friends, their mothers, grandmothers and all the other moms out there with their wealth of experience. I am forever grateful for all the “tricks of the trade” known to mothers everywhere, both seasoned and relatively new, and I hope these help you too.

First – travel.

Rain, thank goodness, is an excellent traveler. She’s been flying with me since she was a little baby. At first I was worried about taking her on the plane, but had gotten lots of good advice from fellow moms. One of which was to be sure she’s sucking — whether breast or bottlefeeding — when the plane takes off and lands, to protect her ears. I would also make sure I sat by the window with my husband next to me. I had a Hooter Hider when she was really young and transitioned to a bottle as she got older. We would be sure to time it right for take off and landing. It worked like a charm! No screaming baby, whew!

As Rain got older, she began to understand what was happening with the plane. Okay. Different ball game.

It had been about six months since our last flight. Rain was around 14 months old, and I very clearly explained to her while looking out the window of the plane that we were going to go, “Up, up, up … in the sky!” I must have said it to her at least five times, until I knew she really understood. And I made sure that I wasn’t scared or worried or nervous for her, since she can pick up on mama’s emotions.

We also watched all the other planes go “up, up, up” while we were waiting for takeoff. She began to say, “Up, up, up!” as she watched. I basically made flying into kind of a game, a ride. We looked out the window as we started to go down the runway and I said, “We’re going faster and faster, and then up, up, up!” We looked at the clouds and she saw we were “up.” Once we were in the air, she would look out the window and see all the “baby cars,” “baby houses” and “baby trees.” It was fun! When we landed, she said, “More?” I was so happy – and relieved. Fortunately, there was a connecting flight so we did it all over again.

Since then we’ve taken about 15 or so flights and she’s loved every one of them. Now whenever she sees a plane she says, “Up, up, up.” I can’t even take her to the airport with me when I pick up friends anymore because she cries that she’s not going on the plane.

About five months ago, I temporarily moved from our home in Los Angeles to Shreveport, Louisiana. Being in a new city with a toddler can be a bit of a challenge. Towards the end of my visit the temperature got to be over 100 so that’s when I had to get really creative.

We arrived at our new home and I didn’t know anyone. And again, being the only cast member with kids on location, I was kinda on my own. I’m used to a big city with a thousand options, so the internet quickly became my best friend. Gymboree, I love you! Shreveport had a Gymboree!

I’d also get the inside scoop from other moms. I’d see a mom at a park and I would say, “What do you do here?” They must have thought I was crazy, but I’ve found there’s an unspoken bond between moms. When I told them I just moved, they completely understood. And the people of Shreveport are so warm and friendly.

There was a good selection of parks, which made me feel a little better but there’s only so much park-going you can do, especially since it was getting hotter day by day.

Rain wanted to see “aminals,” but there wasn’t a zoo within 100 or so miles of Shreveport. However, there were pet stores. Thank you, Critter Co., for letting me visit over and over! We would spend afternoons there and the owners were so kind that they’d let us take out a puppy and play. They had rabbits, guinea pigs, kittens, mice. She loved it! Can’t thank those guys enough! But even pet stores can get boring if you’re doing it day after day.

Up close with the zebras – Courtesy Marisol Nichols

I discovered an “animal museum” – basically a taxidermy museum filled with stuffed animals. I don’t know about any of you but taxidermy kinda freaks me out. As it turns out the Touchstone Wildlife and Art Museum been family owned and operated for generations. Apparently, the animals get donated from zoos all around the world after they pass away. That made me feel a little better. There were stuffed zebras, giraffes, armadillos, elephants, tigers and tons of species of animals I’ve never heard of. Rain calls them “babies.” She was so excited she could touch the “babies” and get to see her “aminals.”

I also took Rain on a hayride, to a farm, milked a goat and picked wild blueberries. For a city girl, these things were AMAZING to me and I could write a whole blog on that — but trying to keep this short. Other than finding cute, kitschy places like the museum or adventurous outings like goat milking, I also discovered I could waste hours in the toy aisle at Target in the a/c, thank you, thank you, thank you! She’d bounce the balls, and see all the toys and loved it. I’d buy a toy each time as my “price of admission.” And honestly I kinda dare anyone to walk into Target and not buy something. There’s always something we seem to “need,” right?

There was also a Barnes & Noble where I was pleased to see other moms doing the exact same thing I was doing – hanging out in the children’s section. Books galore!

What about a mall? They usually have play areas… I found a mall but alas, no play area. So we made our own. The stores were closed on Sundays but the mall would leave their doors open. Again, air conditioning — yay! Rain would spend time running up and down the mall’s corridor to her heart’s content. She could scream and hear her echo. It was glorious! Needless to say, as time went on, I got more and more creative.

One time, I fearlessly drove 3½ hours to the nearest amusement park. Yes in 90-100 degrees, oh boy! Not recommending that. Drove back the same day and Rain slept the whole way home — thank you, honey. I timed it out so her going to sleep time would coincide with the drive. Worked perfectly but I was exhausted the next day! Worth it though. She had a blast!

I gave up on trying to wean her off the bottle completely since I’m tackling potty training. Gotta get her ready for preschool and don’t want to try two new things at once. WISH ME LUCK! I’ll keep y’all informed!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Twitter and keep up with me on Facebook, or you can check out The Gates — it airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.

To all you wonderful moms out there, I love you so much! Moms rock!

— Marisol Nichols

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Showing 29 comments

Yarazeth on

Just want to say that I love reading all the baby blogs. I dont have any kids myself but I do enjoy all the stories and experiances from all the mommies!! Maybe some day when I have a kid I will think back on these blogs. So thank you for sharing. By the way I love you show and do tune In every Sunday. Until next blog 🙂

Beka on

If you are looking for more things to do – Try seeing if there is a local library near you and they usually have storytime in the mornings. At mine they have it on Monday and Thursday mornings.

Melisa on

When and if you come back…North Bossier Park is wonderful. Has a waterplay area and a wonderful playground. Also, there is lots of green area to run in. Love it!!!!

Amanda on

Being a mommy is a blast! You sound like an awesome mom, and like you’re able to handle any situation/keep your daughter entertained.

I love reading your blog, and have been a fan for awhile. Loved your episode in Charmed ;p

megan on

“I had a Hooter Hider when she was really young and transitioned to a bottle as she got older.”

I’m surprised she wore a Hooter Hider on a plane. They always looked bulky to me.

Colleen on

At 22 months, weaning from a bottle is more developmentally appropriate than potty-training. Yes, potty training can be done at 22 months, but should not be forced. 2.5 years is an ideal time to be done with potty training, but this can be done in a month. The bottle can be taken away overnight. And really, it is not developmentally appropriate to have a bottle at 22 months, especially for speech and muscle development purposes.

Lisa on

the Hooter Hider isn’t bulky at all. I wore mine on plane trips with both of my girls (and in restaurants, etc). They’re great.

fuzibuni on

Thanks for your informative blog marisol!
Another thing people can do with their kids is find independent toy and book stores in their areas. These usually have author/illustrator visits, music, storytime and workshops for kids. Also, the environment is usually geared more toward children, unlike the large retail chains 🙂

jessicad on

Great blog! I live in Alabama and finding things to do in this heat is definitely hard, we practically live in the pool because you can’t be outside otherwise. We do all the things you mentioned, and pet stores are great too:)

I weaned my daughter off the bottle a tad late too, she only took one at bedtime but she was a little over 2 when she gave it up. I was too embarrassed to admit that to anyone until now!

Glad Marisol enjoyed the south:)

Claire on

While Marisol Nichols seems like a wonderful, caring mother, I cannot believe that her daughter is still on a bottle! There is absolutely no need for one at her age. I take the bottle away the day babies turn one year old and give them a cup. They drink milk and water from a regular, short tumbler cup and water in a sippy cup, but only when we’re away from home. When it comes to things like bottles and pacifiers, it’s much better to take them away before they become emotionally attached to them – as Marisol is apparently realizing, given that she “gave up on trying to wean her off the bottle.” There is no need to “try” or “wean.” Just take away! Within a couple days, Rain will have forgotten all about it!

Claire on

Marisol Nichols is clearly a wonderful and caring mother, but I have to wonder why on earth her 22 month old is still on a bottle! There is no need for one after the first birthday, and it can damage the mouth muscles and impede speech development. With things like bottles and pacifiers, it’s best to take them away before the kids become emotionally attached to them. Marisol must now realize this since she “gave up on trying to wean her off the bottle..” There is no need to “try” or “wean.” Just toss them and teach her to drink from a regular cup! After a couple of days, Rain won’t even care about the bottles anymore!

Claire on

My sincere apologies for the repeat comment. I thought I had messed up when I couldn’t see my comment so I left it again.

Jennifer on

I have to agree with Claire. Just take it away. No more bottles. Take her to the store and let her pick out a sippy (either traditional or straw) she loves and that’s it. When she gets thirsty enough she take it. With both my kids I introduced the sippy as soon as they were big enough to sit in the highchair and hold one. I also made sure that they sat somewhere (table, couch) to drink and did not let them roam around with them. It might make for a difficult couple of days but you will both survive the transition.
You are being smart about delaying potty training – one thing at a time. Good luck!

Steph on

I would love to know what the go is with the criticism about bottles and dummies??? Every time there is a post with a baby/toddler using either there are people who bang on about it as if they’re experts and the use of such things was detrimental to the child’s health!
This kid is TWO YEARS OLD. Not 5, so really you need to back off with the whole ‘she shouldn’t have a bottle’ thing, especially when you have NO IDEA how many, when or why she has them. And when did Marisol say she was forcing her child to potty train? Pretty sure she just said they were trying it…

Romy on

it’s probably not that big of a deal to have a bottle still unless she’s carrying it all the time and always sucking on it. if it’s a couple times/day it’s not much different from a sippy cup. I did take bottles away at 12-13 months for both of my kids. It was cold turkey and not too bad. I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Same with a pacifier. If a child uses it to fall asleep until 3yo oh well. If they’re using it all day that’s where problems can come in.

Claire on

To Steph: The fact that you call pacifiers “dummies” should really tell you something about them. The purpose of a pacifier is to soothe a child who doesn’t have the capability to soothe him or herself. This neurological need to suck for comfort stops at 4 months old. This is when parents need to start teaching babies to soothe themselves without external aides. Many experts highly recommend taking the pacifier away by no later than six months old. If you do it then, cold turkey, they forget all about it within a couple of days. If you wait longer than that, the child can start to form an emotional attachment to it and it can be hard to take away. (Enter “Binky Fairies” and prizes and rewards for “weaning” off something they don’t need anyway!) I realize Ms. Nichols didn’t say anything about pacifiers in her post, but I feel that the same thing applies to bottles. When kids turn one, they can start drinking regular milk. This is the perfect time to teach them to drink from a cup. Many mothers like sippy cups, but most experts (and dentists) feel that the sucking action used to drink from one of these is equal to sucking from a bottle. The sugars from the milk or juice build up on the teeth causing cavities and tooth decay. Nearly 30% of 2-5 year olds have tooth decay! And remember, even though kids start to lose these “baby teeth” when they’re five or six, many of the teeth will be with them for their first 10-12 years! Along with cavities, the top teeth can slant out, the bottom teeth can tilt in, and extended use can cause the jaws to be misaligned. I realize Ms. Nichols didn’t say how many bottles a day Rain still has, but even one or two is unneeded. When kids get thirsty enough, they will drink from a regular cup. Even the straw type cups are fine. And to address your comment that she is only two and not five, how do you think five year olds end up with bottles and “dummies?” The parents don’t take them away when they’re one or two! The longer you wait, the more emotionally attached they become and the harder it is to take away. For goodness sakes, Ms. Nichols mentioned that she was getting Rain ready for pre-school; is it really that hard to believe that a child who is ready for pre-school doesn’t need a bottle? Bottles are for babies. I personally took the bottle away from my twelve month old, and did an intense, one day training on drinking from a regular cup. By the end of the day, she had pretty much mastered it. My child is not smarter or better equipped in some way than any other 12 month old. There is no reason to believe that Ms. Nichols’ daughter is not ready to learn to do the same thing.

meghan on

Claire, with all respect, it’s none of our business what Ms. Nichols chooses to do with her child and her using a bottle really does not warrant three lengthy posts on the matter.

Jen on

I agree! Really who cares if her daughter still has a bottle. One muct assume by all of these posts people are perfect parents and never do anythign that isn’t reccomended (like letting your child watch tv, or drink juice, or stay up late one night, or sleep with a toy). It;s nice to know there are so many perfect people out there! HA! I for one am not perfect and wouldn’t make comments about how someone else is raising their child!

Jennifer on

Well if this were Suri most of you would be singing a different tune… That little girl was blasted repeatedly for having a bottle well into her toddler years. I guess if it’s Suri being criticized it’s ok.

B on

My daughters dentist told us that it is best to get rid of a pacifier/bottle by age 3-no later, but who knows. At this point Marisol’s daughter is emotionally attached already, 3 more months or 6 more months are not going to make it any worse. If Marisol wants to tackle potty training first and then the bottle that’s her choice. We have to pick and choose what we think is best for our child, not necessarily what others think and say. We could all find things wrong with how someone else takes care of their child.

another mom on

How impressive that you found so many things to do for your child while you were in your new home, new city. I’m going to use your game of flying the next time I travel with my little one, thanks for the idea!

Steph on

Good Lord! My point was that there are too many judgemental comments going on, but if its going to get a ‘holier than thou’ novel in response, I think I’ll stick to laughing at you and not waste my time commenting.

MiB on

Claire, the only thing using the word “dummy” about a pacifier says about Steph is that she is most probably british!

Sal on

Firstly – SIGH. Why do groups of women read these baby blogs if all they’re going to do is criticise? These people are writing these to let us know about their experience with their child, not to be scrutinised for their every choice and word written! Every Mum has a different way of doing things to suit their child and the way I see it is it’s really none of our business to judge one another. As Mum’s we should support each other whatever choices we make and just be there to help and/or listen.

I love reading all the baby blogs on here and even when a Mum describes something I don’t necessary choose to do with my daughter for whatever reason, I don’t then write a bashing post to say what terrible choices they’re making for their child! Enough with the ganging up. We’re all Mum’s together, enough is enough!

Romy on

I like Marisol’s sandals, anyone know what kind they are?

Karen on

Thank you, Sal!!! I just crack up reading these posts where people love to pick apart the one (or many) things they don’t agree on….like they’re the expert!
Beautiful little girl and what fun you made out of a new situation!

Steph on

MiB: close! I’m an Aussie 😉

Claire on

Okay, clearly I am in the minority here and that’s fine. I’m used to it. But I am the daughter of a pediatrician and a pediatric dentist, both who saw more than their fair share of “binky mouths” and “baby bottle mouths.” I grew up listening to my parents discuss what’s best for a baby’s oral development and bottles and binkies clearly aren’t. I myself majored in Child Development so while I’m certainly no expert, I do have some background. I sincerely apologize if my posts came off as “holier than thou,” but this is just something I’m passionate about. Rest assured that I think I am nowhere near perfect! I allow my child to watch cartoons, have crackers for lunch on occasion, and will admit to one time being the mom who gave in to a public tantrum for the sake of peace! I agree that what Marisol Nichols does with her child is her business. But she’s the one who put it out there in a blog and I gave my opinion on it – just as others did. I think Ms. Nichols is clearly a great and loving mom who wants the best for her daughter, I just have very defined views on children going to pre-school while still on a bottle.

And to Steph, I apologize if you thought my long post was directed entirely at you. I can see that how I wrote it would make you think that, but it wasn’t. And to everyone else, please save any posts bashing my opinions; I assure you I’m done now 🙂

Nancy on

Miss Marisol, thanks so very much for sharing your experience with the public. That is a brave thing to do for anyone, regardless of the new boundaries, or lack thereof these days. One thing about blogging that bugs me, is the comments. People making judgment calls on others decisions. & only having art of the story & a fraction of the facts. To much Drama. Thanks for your slice of life!