Article by Sachelle Mansour, Mum of 4 and director of Holiday Tots – Individual family-friendly holiday accommodation
We all know that once a baby arrives our lives are never quite the same again. Lack of energy from sleepless nights means that visiting our favourite restaurant, bar or even cinema (here I have dozed off a few times) is put on temporary hold. It is also daunting to think of going on holiday especially with all the equipment but it can sometimes be just the break a new family needs…
All families are different and so needs vary from one to another: I always thought I travelled light until my friend went away to Switzerland with her hubby, 3 year old and 4 month baby carrying only a backpack and rucksack! I don’t think many of us could cope with such little luggage!
Here are a few tips on what to consider when travelling for the first time with a baby:
Think about where you would like to go: do you want guaranteed sunshine or just happy to get away whatever the weather?
Next consider the sort of accommodation you would like. Are you happy with a hotel type of holiday or would you like your own self catering place? The obvious advantages of the latter are that you will have access to all the facilities you need if you choose your accommodation wisely and, if baby has a restless night you have a home from home environment to nurse him.
Whatever style of accommodation you chose, If baby is on the move make sure he can explore your holiday home safely otherwise you will never get your relaxing time! (I.e. stair gates available where stairs could be a hazard. ) Also check that they are baby friendly and can offer as many items as possible for baby so that you can travel as light as possible.
Hiring a car? If hiring a car and travelling by plane make sure your car hire pick up is located at the airport, we had a 20 minute bus ride once when our chap was very young and had to wait 15 mins for the bus to arrive which after a long flight felt like an eternity.
Car seat – If hiring a car from a reputable hire company they will have car seats, if you are unsure either take your own or use a local (at destination) baby hire company who will deliver the seat to the airport.
Window shades – Very important to remember your window sunshade or car seat shade (whichever you use) we forgot ours once and I was driving along a very long motor way with no stops for a while, the sun was beating down on our chap, our air-conditioning didn’t work and he overheated very quickly… If you get caught short use some sort of clothing/blanket fixed in the window.
Where possible start your travel on a full tummy, both you and baby, stops the hunger growls!
If going to a hot country give baby a little extra fluid as one of the most common problems is dehydration which can cause a high temperature. We always offered a spoon of water early stages and now he is a little older a travel drinks bottle or cup throughout the day.
If flying -
- Be as prepared as possible through security with liquids and feeds all in one bag: it relieves the stress… Most airlines let you take a buggy through to the departure gates but just check beforehand. It’s great for lugging all the bags until you have to leave it at the plane. Alternatively use a baby sling and put your pushchair into the hold with your luggage which keeps your hands free to carry bags and shop if you want to!
- Wherever possible book bulk-head seats so that you can use the basinets (cots for babies – these can only be used when in the air but are great to allow you a little free time when baby sleeps). If you are travelling with a toddler, note that the arm rests in these seats do not move and so you might want to think about alternative seats so that he can lay down and sleep across you when in the air.
- Try feeding baby on take off and landing as the sucking action helps if they suffer with ear pain I also find it a great relaxer.
Above all plan ahead, enjoy your break and go with the flow at a slower pace than you are probably used to allowing a little more time to get things done. For some ideas of baby friendly holiday properties visit www.holidaytots.co.uk
Please tell us in the comments below any experiences you have had travelling with baby for the first time or any tips or advice you would give to other mums going away for the first time with their baby or toddler. x
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