Travelling with young children
Early babyhood is a good time for travelling, as your baby will be sleeping a lot of the time. Make the most of your baby's chilled outlook on life and book a relaxing first holiday for your new little family. This will be a nice break for everyone and help to build the family bond.
But it may be an idea to plan on staying put in one location. A lot of moves require energy and can cause stress, since your little travel companion's needs and luggage are 'celebrity-style'.
Things to bear in mind before going on holiday with a baby
• Tell your doctor about your travel plans at least two months in advance if you will be going on an extended holiday abroad. Ideally, your baby should have had his first vaccinations, usually at three months of age.
• Were you planning on taking off to a remote desert island far from civilisation? Way to go! But check that there's a doctor and a hospital at your destination.
• Some airlines give you an extra baby cabin luggage allowance at no extra cost.
• Check up on what you are allowed to take through airport security as hand luggage.
• With some airlines you can order a baby bassinet to sleep babies up to 12 months. This little crib attaches to the wall in front of you where baby can sleep.
• The cabin pressure during take-off and landing can cause baby's ears to get blocked and hurt. The best way to help baby to equalise the pressure in his ears during take-off and landing is to breastfeed him. Alternatively, encourage baby to suck on something else, like a dummy or bottle. Try also to give your baby something to play with to distract him.
Smart packing list for travelling with your baby or toddler
• For infants older than six months, a lightweight, folding pram is a good investment. Ideally, baby should be able to sleep comfortably in it, lying flat.
• A backpack is also useful for carrying washcloths, diapers/nappies and all the baby kit you need, and having two hands free keeps you flexible when travelling with a young child.
• Assuming you are not heading for a desert island with baby, you only need to pack for the first day or two at your destination. Most things will be available to buy locally when you arrive.
Packing list – cabin luggage for your child
• Ready-mixed baby food, infant formula, drinks and snacks if your child is old enough.
• Infant formula and a baby bottle. A baby feeding bottle is handy for filling with water too, as it's extra important to keep baby's fluids up in the plane where the air may be dry.
• Bib, plate and cutlery for a slightly older child.
• A change of clothes.
• Nappies, wet-wipes and any medicine you might need.
• Cuddly toys and playthings to amuse and distract your child during the flight.
• Bring enough food for 24 hours in case your flight is delayed or your baggage goes missing or is delayed.
• A baby under 12 months usually flies free of charge provided it does not occupy its own seat but spends the flight on one of its parents' laps.
How to care extra for baby on arrival at your holiday destination
• Sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 12 months. You should therefore take care not to spend time in direct sunlight.
Read more about children and sun protection.
• You should also protect children from sun reflected from the surroundings such as from water, sand and snow.
• Protect your child with cover-up clothing and a hat even if you stay in the shade.
• Do not park the pram in direct sun. Infants have difficulty regulating their temperature and can easily overheat.
• Take extra care not to let your baby or toddler get dehydrated; always have fluids to hand.
• Inspect the bedding arrangements. Many hotels offer cots/cribs free of charge. However, inspect the safety of the cot/crib, as standards vary depending on your holiday location.
Tips for avoiding tummy troubles on your family holiday
Travelling with a baby and getting a dose of runny tummy or other bugs might be quite an ordeal. If you get sick, you want to be sure of not infecting your child.
• If in the slightest doubt, avoid drinking tap water and buy bottled water instead.
• Take extra care to wash your hands, and don't use shared towels.
• Avoid rubbing your eyes unless you've just washed your hands. It is easy to contract infections via the mucous membranes of your eyes.
• Bring hand disinfectant and use it frequently.
• Eat properly cooked food. Avoid fish, shellfish and chicken if you are unsure if it is has been safely stored and properly cooked.
• Try to eat freshly cooked food, and avoid buffets if you suspect the food may have been out for a long time.
• Avoid fruit and salad that may have been rinsed in tap water. This only applies to certain countries. Peelable fruit is a good option.
• Some common objects that collect a lot of bacteria include money, handrails, door handles, computer keys and buttons, for instance in lifts. In toilets, the flush handle or button is the biggest source of bacteria.
Now have a great trip!
Further reading: Helping your baby to sleep soundly