Traveling with a baby can create a mixed bag of emotions; while such an adventure is a great opportunity to create memories and enjoy some bonding time, it can also be a source of deepening anxiety – a real shame if this is your first trip away with your baby. The good news is that there are numerous ways to prepare your baby and yourselves for that first trip. Travelling with a baby in tow need not be a nightmare, you know.
Five tips you should heed before traveling with a baby
If you’re in the process of organizing your baby’s first big trip, we recommend reading the tips that we’ve compiled below; while you may have your own way of doing things, you can never be too prepared when it comes to traveling with a baby!
Think about the journey ahead
So, you’d like to take your baby on his or her first vacation? There are a few things you should consider before booking a destination, organizing flights and planning activities, namely the disruption such a journey could cause your baby. Wherever possible, try and limit travel time, or break your trip into manageable chunks that will not upset your baby too much. This may mean saving that long-haul flight until your infant is older and more receptive to your frantic attempts to calm him or her; trust us when we say it will be worth it. You’ll also want to consider how you’re going to keep your little one calm for the duration of your trip. A favorite soft toy or comforter is going to be essential, so have a few spares packed.
Plan your trip carefully
First things first: plan, and plan again. As any parent knows, babies need an awful lot of their own luggage, and it’s essential that you create a list of everything you’re likely to require in advance of your departure date. Such a list will become something of a work in progress, as you add items to it each time you pass by. From documentation and medical information to clothes, accessories and items in case of an emergency, your vacation plan should encompass daily essentials and those specifically for the purpose of travel. What’s more, you’ll have a handy list of everything you’ve packed to ensure it comes home with you again – great for parents who need to be on the ball on that return journey.
Prepare to keep your baby entertained
Thanks to your pre-packed comforter, your baby is happily gurgling away beside you, undaunted by the new sights, sounds and smells all around them. However, how are you going to keep your tot entertained for the rest of your trip? The best way to minimize stress and soothe a bored baby is to pack a few stimulating toys that he or she will be able to interact with in the car, on the plane or during downtime at the hotel. Babies tend to be most receptive to bright colors, bold shapes and interesting textures that will stimulate their senses and capture their imagination. Activity circle toys, which will teach kids about shapes, are a great addition to any carry-on bag; compact and light, they won’t weigh you down, and will keep your baby entertained for hours in a quiet, constructive way.
Don’t underestimate the need for refreshments
You may be able to cope with a bottle of water and some sucking sweets for the duration of your trip, but your baby is likely to need something more substantial. If your baby is currently breastfeeding, ensure you’ll have access to muslin cloths and spare breast pads, as well as somewhere secure and comfortable to feed. If your baby is formula fed, you’ll need to pack pre-sterilized bottles or a travel sterilizer, measures of formula, a bottle warmer and a hygienic flask with hot water. Weaning babies will need a sippy cup with water, as well as some finger foods that they can eat under supervision; clean snacks in containers will reduce the likelihood of mess, and keep your baby content during longer journeys.
Be mindful of your baby’s routine
Long journeys and action-packed vacations can really take it out of a baby, so wherever possible, stick to your routine. Schedule travel and activities around things such as your baby’s naptime or snack time, and steel yourself for the possibility that certain things will have to take a backseat to your baby’s needs; spending all day by the pool, and choppy boat rides are not suited to the youngest member of the family. To make the most of your vacation, do things in small bursts, with plenty of time to nap or rest in between. Not only will your family feel more rested for such a routine, but your baby will be far more receptive to the rest of your plans if he or she is able to enjoy a little downtime between activities.
If you’re prepared to compromise, and plan several weeks in advance, traveling with a baby need not be the nightmare you’re expecting it to be. Indeed, heading on vacation with your tot can actually be, dare we say it, fun – and incredibly rewarding for the whole family. While traveling with a child in tow may be unchartered territory for your family unit, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t become the new normal. Once you’ve determined what works for you and your baby, you’ll be keen to head off on another adventure…