Family vacations can create fun learning experiences and long lasting memories for both parents and their babies. But at times, traveling with a baby can be a nerve racking endeavor, and most parents tend to feel anxious about how it’ll go. In this article, we are going to give you the top tips for traveling with your baby;
- Be well prepared;
If you plan to travel with a baby less than a year old, you better be well prepared. Although you cannot entirely control all that that happens at the airport, or even in flight, you can always plan ahead.
Never make the rookie mistake of traveling without doing proper prep work. If it’s your 1st trip with your baby, you should plan for a much slower pace than usual.
If you wish to see more places, you need to be realistic about what you can actually cover with your baby in tow; the less you feel you’ve to pack in, the more stress free and enjoyable the vacation will be.
- Update the immunizations for the whole family;
If you are traveling abroad, you should check with your public health authority for the advisable additional vaccines.
Well, depending on the duration of stay and destination, the following immunizations might be recommended (though some can’t be given to babies and young children); Hepatitis A vaccine, Hepatitis B vaccine, Typhoid vaccine, Immune globulin, Rabbies vaccine, Yellow fever vaccine, among others.
- If your baby or child has special needs, it can be very helpful to talk to other parents whose children/babies have similar conditions; they might have some useful travel tips.
You should consider getting an identity bracelet which has details of your baby/child’s medical condition, type of treatment and the doctor’s name; this can be very useful in case of an emergency.
Similarly if your baby has serious allergies, make sure they travel with a card which specifies what they are allergic to, and just how serious the particular condition is; this should be written in the language of your destination.
- Pack light; Almost every family has the essentials they cannot live without. But you will be surprised at just how little you actually need when you are traveling. When packing, always try following the rule that says; when in doubt, leave it out.
That being so, there are some essentials that you need to have with you. The most important one being a stroller. Having a stroller at the airport will allow your baby to enjoy a good rest while you rush from one gate to another, and it also cuts down on the dawdling.
In addition, the stroller can be brought through the airport security and gate checked so as to make travel with your baby much easier; the airline can easily check your stroller right there at the gate.
You can ask for a gate check tag, and then bring your stroller to the jetway end. The airline attendants will pop it down in the cargo holding area, and will bring it back up after you have landed.
Be smart about the type of stroller you use. Do not use a stroller that collapses easily or one that is too bulky. One of the best strollers to use is the umbrella stroller.
Alternatively, if you have a growing family, you can use the tandem stroller;tandem strollers for growing families are the best ones to use when traveling with more than one child.
Some of the other things you can carry include;
-A thin blanket (preferably one that smells of home; it will help ease your baby anxiety)
-Wipes and diapers (enough for the travel time, plus 24 hrs extra in case of delay)
-A change of clothing for your baby
-Nursing pads along with shields, if you are breastfeeding
-Formula and bottles in case you bottle feed
-Pacifiers, if necessary
-A board book and some comfort toys
-Baby friendly snacks
-A small pillow
It’s a good idea to pack your baby’s things in see through plastic bags, so that the security personnel doesn’t rummage through them and contaminate the pacifiers, teethers and nipples when searching your bag(s).
- If you plan on breastfeeding during the flight, you should inform the flight attendants well in advance; there shouldn’t be a problem, but at times, the close quarters can feel a bit awkward. The flight attendants might even let you move to a much less crowded area for more privacy.
To enhance comfort, you can use pillows to prop up your baby while breastfeeding. If you are using powdered formula, you should consider bringing bottled water which you can mix it with.
Do not use the tap water on the plane since it might not be safe for your baby. Well, no matter how you are traveling, it is always a smart idea to feed your baby and change the diapers, if need be, before starting out.
- Play games and keep the activities coming; Before traveling, take some time to write up a list of age appropriate games which will be used to pass the time when you’re stuck in the lines or while in transit.
You can have a collection of toys which can be handed out once every hour while on transit. Tiny coloring books, handheld puzzles, word searches, stickers, and even packs of Plasticine can help pass time on a long journey.
- You should consider purchasing a child monitor; Child monitors can be of great help since they help keep an eye on your child in the crowded places like the airports and the shopping malls.
Your baby wears a small unit (that’s strapped to a shoe or belt) and you carry the tracking device; in case you lose your child, (or the distance between the baby and the tracker exceeds the user defined range), an alarm sounds.
When the tracker alarm sounds, you can simply push the button which sets of the bleeper on your child’s unit, you follow the sound and you find your baby.
- When traveling with a baby, you might need to carry extra documentation. If you’ve an adopted baby, you should take their adoption papers, and if you are the only parent traveling, you may be asked for the proof of consent to travel from the child’s other parent (regardless of your marital status).
This usually happens in countries where child trafficking and/or overseas adoption is common.
- Consider booking ahead. Finding proper accommodation after you arrive at your destination can be quite challenging especially with a baby in tow. It is a smart idea to pre-book for the 1st few nights as this will allow you to comfortably look for better accommodation.
If you are booking a hotel, you should check for any special family deals; l some hotels offer discounted rates for families and free meals for the children. There are many international hotel chains which offer these.
By Nancy Shaw for the Healthy Moms Magazine
Nancy Shaw is the founder of HiFiveBaby where she writes about common problems encountered by parents and how to deal with them, motherhood in general and FAQs about babies, toddlers and kids. She provides scientific and medical basis and also her personal experience as a mom to a wonderful toddler. Now you can explore the joy of parenthood with ease! You can also find her on Twitter.