Guest post on behalf of Nicole Cassey
I live in Perth, Western Australia one of the most isolated and remote cities in the world! So the only way we can get to see the world is by travelling a very long way. It’s a 5 hour flight to Sydney for us. If you’re feeling nervous about travelling with your baby or toddler please rest assured there are a number of tips for traveling with children. Don’t stress – you got this!
New parents can often fret about the thought of a long plane ride or road trip with a young child, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad. If you start traveling with your baby while they’re young it will get easier as they grow. Unfortunately, it does become more expensive as your child grows with full airfares after 2 years of age, or if your child wants to occupy their own seat. So why not make the most of it now whilst they’re young!
If you have a positive attitude about travelling with your baby and expect some good parts and some more challenging parts, you will be prepared and you will survive! I vividly recall traveling to Europe when my son was 2 ½ and my daughter was just 6 months old – what an adventure! My daughter slept on me most of the way from Singapore to London because she didn’t like the car seat contraption the airline provided for babies to sleep in – I don’t blame her either!
Here are some simple tips I’ve learnt along the way to make traveling with your baby easier!
TIPS FOR FLYING WITH A BABY
The bonus of traveling by plane is that you’ll be travelling with many strangers! The trick is to remain calm and positive and be prepared. Your baby can sense when you’re stressed – they can smell your fear! I’ll say that’s easier said than done when the airline loses your luggage and you have a distressed teething and hungry baby on your hands (yes this actually did happen to us on a flight from Madrid to London. Our luggage never was found!)
1) WINGING IT WON’T CUT IT – PREPARATION IS KEY
The days of taking off for a romantic long weekend abroad are over! Preparation is key to traveling with young children. You need to think about flights and connections – believe me a 9 hour lay-over at the airport in Hong Kong on your way home to Australia from a European trip is certainly not ideal! Evening flights may work best with young children so you time the flights when they should be sleeping rather than when they’re wide awake and restless.
If you’re travelling internationally make sure your baby has a passport and that all family members have at least 6 months until their passports expire. Also check Visa requirements well in advance. You don’t want to get to the airport and be turned away!
It’s also very important to check with your airline so you’re aware of what additional luggage you’re able to check-in when traveling with a baby – car seat, pram or buggy. If you’re traveling alone a baby carrier or sling may come in handy.
2) PICK YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS WISELY
You need to put some thought into the sort of holiday you would like. A hotel certainly has its perks – room service, laundry service, kids club, babysitting, rooms cleaned every day the list goes on! Booking a holiday rental means that you can make it your own. A holiday rental may also mean that you have more space. You can cook your own meals but don’t expect that the holiday rental will be cleaned daily.
3) PACK LIGHTLY
If you’re like me and tend to pack everything bar the kitchen sink BC (before children)! It’s a whole new story when packing for a family. You should pack lightly as most items you can get abroad. Diapers (we call them nappies) take up a lot of room so you may be able to research other similar brands you might find at your destination.
Pack plenty of spare clothes including warm clothes and a couple of spare clothes for all members of the family in your hand luggage. Don’t forget to pack your baby or child’s Baby Sleeping Bag, Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap or Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle especially as they act as a sleep cue for your little one. You may also want to include acetaminophen or ibuprofen and hand wipes. You never know what might happen and you’ll feel better if you can clean up any mess or be able to give your little one something if they suddenly develop a fever.
Pack some of baby’s clothes across different suitcases so if one suitcase is lost, you’ll still have some clothes available – lesson well and truly learnt!. When our luggage got lost all of my son’s clothes were in that one suitcase with a few of my belongings including my old trusty hair-dryer!
Remember you may have additional luggage if you take a car seat or pram. I always found that a light-weight stroller worked best and a baby carrier.
4) FEEDING YOUR BABY ON A PLANE
I was advised to breastfeed on take-off and landing to prevent baby getting pain from the pressure change. But sometimes by the time we took off, my baby had finished feeding! Both my kids had glue ear and had a pacifier (we call them dummies) for their first year of life. Having a pacifier/dummy for take-off and landing helped with their ears and adjusting to the pressure if they wouldn’t feed.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not make sure you drink plenty of water as plane travel is dehydrating. Take a generously sized empty water bottle on board and get the flight attendant to fill it once you’re settled.
Try to avoid alcohol as it’s a diuretic and its affects are amplified at altitude. While alcohol may take the edge off initially the after affects usually make you feel lousy and can contribute to jet lag. Definitely not worth it in my opinion!
If your baby is bottle fed, it helps to pack more formula than you think you’ll need. To save space empty powdered formula into zipper-lock bags. If your baby is on solids then you may want to bring your own food for the journey. You could also check with the airline to see what they’ll provide. If your baby is older they will get a kids meal and you can always request special meals if there are any dietary requirements.
5) SEAT ALLOCATION
Sitting in the aisle seat makes it easier to get to the overhead locker for diapers and supplies and to go for a stroll if your baby becomes unsettled.
On the plane keep the blinds shut. If your baby wakes after a short nap, try to not overstimulate with play and too much food. You may be able to get them back to sleep.
For long haul flights request a bassinet seat early. Your baby will be close by but it’s a saving grace to have hands free for a meal or so they can sleep in their own sleep space. Bamboo muslin wraps can be used as a bassinet sheet or as a comfort blanket when traveling with your baby on a plane. Then your little one’s swaddle or baby sleeping bag to cue them that it’s time to sleep.
6) SLEEP ASSOCIATIONS WHILST TRAVELING
Try to keep your rituals and sleep associations the same as when you’re at home when traveling with your baby. Take baby’s favorite toys, books and swaddle or baby sleeping bag on holiday. It helps to try to follow the same routine even when traveling!
Everything may not go according to plan but a positive attitude will mean you will have a greater chance of keeping your baby as relaxed and as comfortable as possible.
7) MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR HOLIDAY
Once you arrive daylight helps your body clock adjust to the new time zone. So get out and about early. Being out at dusk also helps your little one recognise the difference between night and day in their new time zone. The dark helps stimulate the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Conversely when it’s light the production of melatonin decreases and our feel good hormone serotonin increases.
Try to get mealtimes in line with the new time zone. Make sure your children eat well during the day. The body will adjust to the new time zone more quickly.
It may take four or five nights to fully adjust to a new time zone so plan your trip around this. Make sure that the first few days are relatively easy going.
It does help to offer lots of exercise time to crawlers or toddlers. Exercise will help promote naps and in turn promote a good night’s sleep. Don’t forget tummy time for young babies.
ARRIVING HOME AFTER TRAVELLING WITH A BABY
Your baby might now be on the time zone from your holiday or tired after the long journey and all the excitement from traveling. It may take a little time to adjust back to normal. As parents, we worry about what travelling will do to the baby’s routine! Babies are very resilient and far more adaptable than us adults! You’ll be back to normal in no time. Enjoy your travels!
Do you have any tips for traveling with babies or young children? Please share your stories, tips, and questions in the comments below! To receive my articles and reviews straight to your inbox Subscribe Here.
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Guest post on behalf of Nicole Cassey of Bubbaroo.com.au
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