When we were first time parents, the thought of taking our baby on holiday was, frankly, terrifying. We didn’t know what we were doing at home, let alone somewhere else and the amount of STUFF they seem to need was a bit overwhelming. Fast-forward to baby number two and we realised, that with a bit of streamlining and organisation, it’s actually easier to travel with a small baby than it is with a toddler. They can’t move, for a start, and don’t generally stay awake long enough between naps to get bored. So, with hindsight, we totally would have taken our first on holiday if we’d just had a bit of guidance on how to get organised, what to pack (and what to leave behind!).
We took our second baby on holiday for the first time when he was 6 weeks old (in the UK), and again when he was 5 months (abroad). We found that the following tips were really handy to ensure a happy, stress-free first holiday for our little one:
- Check what’s already there. A lot of hotels and holiday accommodation that sell themselves as baby-friendly will provide a comprehensive list of baby items and equipment, from toys, to bath seats to travel cots. So before you start packing, ask what is already there and whether there’s any additional charge to hire it. It could save you a lot of packing and lugging.
- Make lists. It can be pretty overwhelming trying to remember everything you need for yourself for holiday, let alone this small person who you’re now responsible for. I find that making a list, with tick-boxes that I can mark off once I’ve packed each item, really helps me keep track of everything I’ve got and everything I need.
- Remind them of home. When we took our little boy away for the first time, I made sure I packed some familiar items. A few small toys from home, a blanket/sleeping bag and cot sheet (if you have room) that they’ve already slept on and, if they use one, their favourite soft toy or comforter. I also like to take our baby bath wash with us so the bedtime routine when we’re away is as similar as possible to our little one’s senses as when we’re at home.
- Don’t forget the medical stuff. Hopefully you won’t need any of it, but it’s a really good idea to pack a wash bag or other small bag with medicines (infant paracetamol and ibuprofen), creams, thermometer, nail scissors, teething gel and anything else you regularly turn to at home if you baby’s feeling under the weather. This is particularly useful if you’re going abroad and you don’t speak the language as it’s stressful enough dealing with a grumpy baby without having to Google the Spanish for nappy rash.
- Plan to do washing. If you’re staying in a self-catering property or have access to a laundry room, don’t forget you can do washing while you’re there. I know this sounds like you’re just taking one of your household chores on tour, but believe me, it helps you pack lighter and also means you don’t have an absolute mountain of washing to tackle when you arrive home.
- Online shopping is your friend. If you’re staying in the UK and going for a self-catering option, do a big online food shop to be delivered to your accommodation the day you arrive. This saves having to go out to a supermarket when everyone’s tired from travelling. Make sure you’re there in good time to take the delivery though as most property owners won’t want to be putting your food away as you’re still driving along the M5!
- Think about milk. If you’re formula feeding, it’s probably best to take enough milk with you to last for your whole stay, just in case you can’t get the same milk where you’re going (this probably doesn’t apply to the UK as you’re never far from a supermarket here!). Most airports offer a service where you can order baby milk and pick it up once you’ve cleared security, which saves any messing about with the liquids rule (but do remember that you are allowed to take enough milk in hand luggage to last the flight so it’s OK to go over the 100ml rule when it comes to feeding your baby).
- Cover them up! If you’re going somewhere where you’re hoping for some sunshine, it goes without saying that you’ll need to slather your baby in sunscreen, put a hat on them and keep them out of the sun in the hottest part of the day. But it’s also well worth investing in a baby wetsuit with long sleeves and long legs too, especially if you’re hoping to take your baby swimming, These serve a dual purpose – to keep your baby protected from the sun’s harmful rays, and also to keep them warm in the water. Little bodies get cold very quickly and even a pool heated to 29 degrees celsius can feel very cold to a baby. You can get wetsuits that are lined with a fleecy material for very small babies or chillier pools too.
- Nappies. Now, I’m all about packing light, but when it comes to nappies I do err on the side of caution a bit. If you have a particular brand you like, I recommend at least packing enough for night time for your entire stay. It took me ages to find nappies that didn’t leak at night for both of my children so when I go away, I want to go away knowing I’ve got my trusted brand to hand. Daytimes though, you can afford to be a little less worried, and buy locally.
- Keep calm when travelling. Whether you’re flying, driving, or getting the train to your destination, try not to worry too much about what might go wrong. Just go with it – give your baby what they need when they need it (even if this means a car journey that would have taken you 2 hours as a childless couple takes 6 with your baby!). Babies are really adaptable and resilient so as long as all their basic needs are met and you’re calm, everything will be fine.
For more travel tips and a comprehensive baby and toddler packing list please visit my website www.bulletpointparenting.com.