Despite the familiar tropes that the naysayers like to think, travelling with your baby is not as arduous as you might think. Everyone from Granny to the casual passerby has an opinion on how children should be raised and what lifestyle you should be living. Oddly enough, the only decisions that matter are your own.
Getting to your destination is perhaps the only stress that comes when travelling with a baby. A lot can happen from curious wide-eyes that don’t want to nap to the dreaded overfull nappy. So, let’s get you prepared with our quick guide:
Preparation is key
Stepping out the front door on any given day brings with it certain responsibilities. Everything from having your phone to your house keys are all necessary items that you wouldn’t leave home without. Now you have a baby in tow, nappies, muslins and favourite fluffy toys are suddenly your highest priority add-on items! So why leave them behind when you’re about to travel?
Now you’ve chosen your family destination, there are critical bits of research you need to do first. Do you need a vaccine? How hot/cold is it going to be when you arrive? What are the facilities like? All important questions when travelling with a babe. Once you know where you are going, you are armed with everything you need to get packing.
Make sure you find out in advance what carry-on items are accepted by your airline so that bottles, snacks and the like aren’t taken away from you on arrival. Although babies are universally free to travel, it also might be worth booking an extra seat. Space can be quite the issue on some flights after all!
Occupying little minds
Screaming babies are a general assumption for most travellers. Some families have experienced the classic tuts, grumbles and groans from their fellow travellers for merely walking onboard with their babe. With added pressure on small ears when taking off, being confined, and general sensory overload, there is a lot for your baby to take in.
Boiled sweets are commonplace on a plane. Perfect for relieving the buildup of pressure when we change altitude, they are a bit of a lifesaver for most of us. Let’s be honest, handing your babe a sweet isn’t really an option – not with all the potential choking hazards involved! For all the breastfeeding mums out there, the most effective way to alleviate the pressure is to let your baby feed. If your child is old enough, simple snacks are an excellent tool to distract them from the situation too.
Here are some other ways to keep your baby occupied:
- Playing a game – get their favourite toy involved
- Onboard entertainment
- Breaking up the flight by walking around the plane
- Snacks and drinks
Much needed sleep
Routine pretty much goes out the window when you travel. From oddly timed flights to running for a connection, there is a lot to consider when travelling with your little one. Throw in a grizzly, overtired babe, and everything starts to feel way more stressful.
So let’s talk about sleep. Napping is all part of your child’s development. It helps them rest growing muscles, and give their brain time to catch up with all the exciting learning experiences they have engaged with throughout their day. It’s also a time for you to have a minute to yourself and let your mind wander elsewhere for a moment or two.
While travelling opportunities for sleep may be few and far between, there are some things you can do:
Nothing is stopping you from bringing on board some of your baby’s favourite items from home. To encourage sleep, give them something familiar like their blanket to encourage a snooze. If that’s not enough, normalising the sensation of travel may be helped by a weighted blanket, as they help you feel safe and secure as you sleep. Perfect for the tricky napper!
Stick to their normal sleep routine
Children love routine. When they are doing anything out of the ordinary, going away from their routine may have its own set of challenges. Fortunately, planes have bathrooms on board! Yes, they are incredibly compact and don’t allow for much wiggle room, but all the essential are there.
You can change nappies, gently bathe your little one and bring their baby toothbrush along too. Not quite like being at home, but its the best you’ve got, so stick with it!
Create a nighttime environment
Anything from pulling down the blinds, to making a warm little nest for your babe is all possible while travelling. If you are hiking up a mountain, use your baby carrier’s canopy to keep the sun at bay and encourage sleep. On a rickshaw? Maybe wait until you return back to your hotel!
When travelling with your baby, you need to think about how you are getting from A to B. Do you want to take a carry-on lightweight pram with you? Or keep it simple with a baby carrier, so you are free to roam hands-free? Whatever you choose, think about your travel destination and what you want to do when you get there.
Ready to board? Travelling with your baby is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Experiences rich in culture, perspectives and more all open up a bigger world to your child. Plus, getting them travel-aware now, will make your next trip more manageable. Win, win.