Jul 28, 2014
Top tips from real mummy Mimi on how to have stress free holidays with little ones, plan, plan and plan!
The first holiday with a new baby can go one of two ways: either you spend a lot of time remembering holidays pre-children when lie-ins, cocktails, spontaneity & carefree sunbathing were the norm or you plan ahead, minimise risk of unsettled baby & learn to enjoy the moment.
Yes you will hear tales of people whose lives are unchanged by their new arrival and continue to party in Ibiza until the sun comes up but some babies have other ideas & we have surveyed experienced parents across the UK to find out top travel tips so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
Rule number one is not to compare with other parents – do what works for you.
Rule number two is to listen to all advice & then absorb and apply the bits that will work for you and your priorities. If your small person sleeps through noise, light & sound but can be a fussy eater – focus on food planning, if yours eats like a small pony but is traumatised by sleeping anywhere but home, sleep will be your holy grail…and if yours eats & sleeps like a good un but hates getting hot, bothered or sandy then working out your day routine for holiday bliss is your mission.
There may be less organic options when travelling but as most countries (!) have babies of their own you can usually find foods to suit small palates everywhere. It’s worth checking sugar levels of foods to ensure you don’t undo the good work you have been doing at home and always check that mineral water is baby friendly – some have too much sodium for small babies. Unless you are seriously off the beaten track most places will have baby-friendly food but here is the checklist for what you do need to take:
- Your favourite formula – changing water & formula might be a step too far for small digestive systems.
- Infant paracetamol – sachets are great for travelling.
- Teething remedies in case you have a teething flare up while you are away.
- Enough snacks & meals for travelling & possibly the first day so you don’t have to panic about finding shops at odd hours – this is
where bought food comes in to its own and a favourite dinner & pudding are very useful.
- We like the Ella’s Kitchen & Plum Baby pouches as you can squeeze them straight onto a spoon for feeding on the move without mess.
- Favourite snacks just in case of travel delays or slow service when eating out! Rice Cakes & bananas usually hit the spot.
- Portable sterilising solutions – the easiest to pack & not necessarily power/microwave dependent – Milton is good.
- Heating bottles & jars – we found that the easiest solution was to carry a small plastic jug as it was easier to get hold of hot water than to ask to use microwaves, find a plug or an adaptor.
Sleep can make or break a holiday – worth putting lots of tips into practice so you can all relax.
- Make travel cots comfy – imagine going from your regular 6” thick mattress to a travel cot with 1” hard mattress – no wonder babies can object to travel cots! Add some layers that baby cannot get tangled in.
- Bring some familiar covers & cot toys from home.
- Try to replicate a soothing bath-time regime from home – and non-slip bath mats are essential while universal plugs mean you can turn large sinks & shower trays into baby baths.
- Be ready to black out light rooms – either by improvising using a sheet or purpose made travel black out blinds/curtain.
- If you are travelling at odd hours – let baby travel in comfy PJs for an easy transfer to bed or get dressed later at services/ airport/on ferry.
As you may gather from the sheer number of tips we HAVE to share….it isn’t all about collecting shells and paddling!
- Patch test sun protection BEFORE you travel – pack twice as much as you think you need AND aftersun & don’t expect other countries to have baby friendly sun care products or be prepared to pay a fortune for it.
- Put suncream on before you get to the beach to minimise rubbing sand in!
- Hats that tie under the chin are a must for babies who keep taking them off.
- Lots of bottled water to rinse dummies, teats, feet, hands etc when covered in sand!
- A travel cot on the beach can work as a playpen & can be picked up cheaply second hand.
- Mini-paddling pool & bath toys– it may seem ridiculous to pack a small paddling pool when there’s the sea /pools to enjoy…..but don’t fall for the myth that baby will appreciate the beach or the pool and they will LOVE having their own space.
- Shade – gone are the days when going a mahogany colour was your personal holiday goal – the sun is now a challenge for you and you will be seeking shade for your small person in the middle of the day and during naps. A good pop up sun tent will be ideal for nappy changing, big enough to push a buggy inside & means you can relax and even read a book.
- Wind-break for staycations – worth the investment to avoid chilly winds & minimise sand in your sandwiches.
- Wheels – you may think that your normal wheels will be fine for the beach but if you plan on visiting a lot & don’t fancy carrying the whole buggy & all the kit mentioned above then invest in a large-wheeled cross country buggy.
- Black out buggy cover for naps on the move.
- Bucket & spade per child – sharing is not a lesson to be learned on the beach!
- Lots of small people have sensory overload on the beach and are happier to play with a bucket of water and a second bucket of stones sitting on picnic rug rather than actually interact with the sea/beach itself.
- UV sun suits are practical for sun protection & leave less surface area for applying sun cream.
- Oversize cotton t-shirts or beach robes are great – tired and emotional beach babies can be scooped up, wrapped up and bathed later.
Well….not really. In another year you may be facing toddler tantrums, beach toy warfare or even potty training on the move. A whole different set of challenges await, but rest assured family holidays are a new feature of your life and the magic moments and memories you create will live on for years, long after the sleepless nights & heat rash are forgotten.
Mimi Blanksby is a PR, Social Media Strategist & occasional guest-blogger with 3 children & a passion for seaside holidays from West Wales to the Greek Islands. She has made it her mission to de-stress family holidays but does admit to the odd “Monica moment” in the packing & planning phase.
AL/1757/07.14/0.001. Date of preparation: July 2014.