It’s finally summer! You’ve been getting excited about this holiday since you booked it months ago, and you’re now into the final countdown. But suddenly, it dawns on you that this is going to be the same as most holidays. You’ve chosen somewhere baby-friendly and thought I was that simple, but now you’re thinking about catching an aeroplane, standing in a queue for hours, waiting for a bus, train, taxi or pick-up car with a screaming baby and way more luggage than you’ve ever needed, what on earth were you thinking?
Calm down! Travelling with a baby can be extremely daunting, and you may to accept that a completely chilled out week of “me time” by a swimming pool isn’t going to happen this year, your first family holiday with a baby can still be relaxing, and you’ll make so many special memories with your little one.
This article is based on the advice of real mums, specifically for a summer holiday. Remember that every parent and every baby is different, so what works for some might not work for you, but it’s worth a try! If you want advice for another kind of holiday, don’t hesitate to mention in the comments!
Here’s how to help your summer holiday as easy and baby-friendly as possible…
Don’t buy ‘travel’ equipment
Your baby has everything he or she needs and way more, so don’t be tempted to fork out for a new, travel-version of something they already have. If it’s something they use often like a stroller, take the one you’ve got, if it’s something they’re never used, you don’t need it and it’s only going to add extra weight! Don’t buy a travel cot or pack-n-play, ask your accommodation if they can provide one, then take your baby’s usual sheets so that they have a familiar smell and extra comfort.
Travel light… but not too light!
When you pack for a baby you’re inclined to pack up every outfit, every toy and everything else baby-related in your house, ‘just in case’. This is going to leave 2 very tired parent carrying huge bags around. We’ve all experienced a few nappy explosions as parents, and if you haven’t then be warned, your baby doesn’t care if you’re in an expensive Spanish restaurant, the nappy-disaster could happen anywhere. This means that in a normal situation you would take spare clothes, but realistically when you’re on holiday, your baby won’t be wearing clothes most of the time! You should take cool clothes so that your baby isn’t too hot, and a completely-covered wetsuit-style outfit for if they do go in the sun for a dip in the sea or swimming pool, but most of the time they will be fine in the shade in their nappy, staying as cool as possible while mum and dad top up their tans. And for goodness sake do not take up suitcase space with shoes if your baby CANNOT WALK!
Unless you’re going somewhere really unusual, you can buy baby essentials at your destination. There’s no point taking 50 nappies anywhere with you, as they take up valuable packing space. Take enough for the first day, the second, in case you don’t want to go out or can’t find a shop immediately, and a couple of emergency extras, then buy some more when you’re out there. People use similar baby products in most countries so you’ll easily find what you need. If you’re worried about the language barrier, then don’t – most people in tourist destinations will speak English, but otherwise you can google translate! (This doesn’t count for baby’s with allergies or special requirements, in that case you’d be better off taking everything with you in case you can’t find a specific item while you’re away.) Finally, I have to mention toys. A newborn baby doesn’t need any, they’re content with mummy and daddy playing with them and most of the time they’ll be asleep. A bigger baby should have their favourite toys, just one or two, and books are always good if you and your baby like reading or flicking through the pages. Don’t forget, most babies are most interested in the contents of your handbag then an expensive toy, so don’t take a whole suitcase of baby entertainment away with you.
Top packing tip: keep all of your passports on your person in a hard-to-steal but easy-to-remember place (secure bag on your front, not on your back unless they’re well concealed deep down or in secure pockets).
Click here to see the absolute- must-pack list for babies!
If you’re changing time zones completely then fly in the day, which would be nighttime in the country you’re heading to ad try and get your baby to sleep for most of the flight. By the time you arrive it should ideally be day time, and aside from their naps, they won’t sleep properly until the evening, by which time they’re be very tired and can go down for the night and wake up fresh on their new time zone. Whether you’re going on holiday nearby or far away, it’s important to keep your baby’s sleep routine as close to their normal routine as possible. This includes keeping every nap the same as it would be at home and putting them to bed around the same time. Of course, you’re on holiday, you don’t want to be too strict with yourselves, so if you’re not in your accommodation then your baby could sleep in the pushchair just try not to keep them awake and mess up their routine.
Flying with a baby
Be prepared, be early
You never know what might happen with a baby. Get to the airport early and to your gate and everything as early as possible. This will encourage everything to run smoothly as you won’t have to rush around and get stressed or sweaty. Most airlines let people with babies or small children on first with the priority boarding queues, even if you haven’t pad for priority boarding. Make he most of hs, and go and find your seat calmly before everyone gets on.
Take off and landing
In an ideal world, you’ll board the plane with a sleeping baby who will sleep for the whole duration of the flight and wil wake up nice and cheerful at the other end. In the real world, this isn’t likely. Many parents suggest feeding your baby during take off and landing to distract and soothe them. This makes a lot of sense because adults are recommended to suck on sweets or mints or chew gum so that our ears don’t pop, so it seems logical for a baby to do the same. Some babies aren’t phased by flying, but if it’s your first time you could feed during take off just in case. As for you, if you’re travelling solo then you don’t have much choice, but if you’re with another adult ad one of you is scared of flying, please give the baby to the other person! Your baby will sense your fear and will have a much worse flight than if someone calm is holding them.
Your baby is crying. You think that everyone hates you. They don’t. Some people will get annoyed and give you dirty looks. Most will roll their eyes and get over it. Some will have been there done that and got the t-shirt. Stop thinking about it. You don’t need to worry about what anybody else thinks. You have the right to be on that aeropae as much as anybody else, and if your baby doesn’t want to sleep through like an angel, that’s your problem and nobody else’s. Stay calm, as your baby will sense it if you’re stressed. Focus your thought on making your baby happy and comfortable, and the flight will be over in no time.
The most important advice can give to anyone taking their baby on their first family holiday is to enjoy yourselves! Throughout your baby’s lifetime there will be fewer and fewer ‘firsts’. This is your first family holiday so make the most of it! Relax, enjoy yourself, taking a baby to another country doesn’t mean you have to completely transform your lifestyle, you just have to keep doing your thing and enjoying the sunshine and the odd poolside cocktail.
P.S. if you’re going to a beach then your baby might EAT SAND. Don’t be horrified. You wouldn’t believe the amount of mothers who have told me that their babies wouldn’t stop eating sand on their first beach holiday. So if your baby has an ‘adventurous’ palate, do your best to stop them but I’m pretty sure it won’t kill them.