We’re travellers at heart, really. Over the years we’ve covered most means of transport and stayed in every standard of accommodation imaginable. Most recently, at 7.5 months pregnant we camped in England. Then, when our daughter Ameli was 5 days old, we travelled to Bath to visit the in-laws. At 11 days we stayed in a hotel with my parents, and a good few trips in between, at 8 months, she had her first camping experience.
My daughter is now nine months old, and apart from the numerous places she’s been in England, she’s also flown to Oslo, driven to France, Belgium and Holland, she’s taken a ferry, been back to France, on to Italy, Switzerland and soon, Croatia.
There are a few things I have learned about travelling with a baby some the hard way. Here are a few of my tips for travelling with babies. If you have any to add, please share them below. I’m sure it’ll save me stress down the line.
Driving with a baby:
- You can’t drive as long as you used to – plan more and more frequent breaks. France has frequent picnic spots where you can stretch your legs and little ones can burn off some energy. You are generally still on the road though, so keep a close eye on them.
- Carry more toys than you would normally. I find if I rotate toys every ten minutes or so, they stay ‘new’ and provide entertainment for longer.
- Have a variety of favourite CD’s. There are only so many times you can listen to one CD over and over before it has negative effects on the parents.
- Keep plenty of water and food on hand. Especially if you’re driving near major cities such as Milan where traffic can delay you for a good few hours.
- Have a sunshade or muslin handy so that you can protect the baby from the sun, especially when you’re in slow moving traffic.
- Keep sunblock in a nappy bag or in the car.
- Sometimes sitting next to your baby helps too. If we’ve been driving for a long time, I will move to the back with Ameli so as to ‘play’ with her – peekabo, funny faces, singing songs.
- A spray bottle of water. The kind of bottle that sprays a mist is really useful when it is very hot, you are in slow moving traffic, (or even fast moving) and you don’t want to use or don’t have an aircon. The aircon uses up a lot of fuel, and on long distances that can become costly. A quick spray of mist over the baby will help keep him or her cool.
Flying with a baby:
- The best advice about flying with Ameli, for me, was breastfeeding during take-off and landing. This reduces the pressure on the ears, just as chewing gum or forcing a yawn does for us.
- Depending on the length of your flight, some way of entertaining – such a toys again, or a lot of patience for peekabo and raspberries!
- Something warm, as planes can often get quite cold. `
On the train with a baby:
- Try to get a seat with a table. I find it easier to keep a crawler contained that way.
- Have snacks, toys and something that can fold in to a pillow on hand.
- Don’t sit with headphones on trying to read. Talk to and play with your baby – they get bored too.
These are things we have learned over the last nine months. Do you have any words of wisdom to share?
Tips for Travelling with a Baby
Ah, this is one area of parenting that puts me off! Traveling! I daren’t take my 4 month old on a plane as I can’t imagine she’ll be settled for such a long time (and when she isn’t settled, she’s VERY cranky!).
I’ve also started writing blogs about pregnancy/motherhood. I hope to be as informative as you. 🙂
The first time was a bit daunting, but we’ve been to 18 countries all together now, and she’ll only be two next week, so it’s not that bad once you’ve done it once. Good luck with the new site!
Great tips. I’ll try taking water spray next time
I wrote a post recently on stress-free flying with little ones.
Just prepping for our next trip back to the states and remembered this post! Such great tips! I guess my addition to the flying portion is that if you are flying with a toddler it’s helpful to include a few small, light-weight books and toys. (But not too many – I swear he never plays with most of the toys I pack!) I also always have a change of clothes for both of us. I don’t think we’ve been on a long-haul flight yet when we both didn’t have to change shirts. (Usually a result of over-enthusiastic jumping when the drink cart has just been by.) Oh, and crayons and paper are also a must. Anyway, great post! Thanks!
I’ve found that things get really challenging on a plane once they have started walking. However, a few episodes of Postman Pat loaded up onto my iphone made our last flight a doddle!
We’ve been on three vacations by plane with our almost 11 month old (3 mo, 4 mo, and 8 mo). Each trip has been easier than the one before. None were difficult. She was actually fine strapped into her car seat during take offs and landings. She didn’t complain at all. I did try and BF her if she was awake about 30 min before landing when the cabin pressure began to change. That probably helped.
Another tip: Don’t take everything with you. There is no need to overpack!
@M @ Betty Crapper, That is SO true! Our first trip I took everything – could hardly carry the suitcase, and received so many gifts for her that I had to leave half my own wardrobe behind to make space/weight requirements work!
Thanks for the comment 🙂
I just got back from a trip with our 3-month-old and the one thing I’d add is to plan for when and where baby will sleep. Getting enough sleep can make or break the trip! I found our baby did not sleep well in the cribs lent to us by family members, so we learned how to cosleep on the fly! A white noise machine also helped, though I’m sure it would have worked even better if he’d been used to it already. I definitely had to keep a closer eye on when he was sleepy so that I could remove him from the exciting surroundings and spend some time winding him down for naptime. If I missed that, the effects were catastrophic! Luckily car rides made for good naptimes, as did walks in his wrap.
@Sheila, Fantastic feedback Sheila, thank you! Yes, we’ve coslept since birth, and honestly I don’t know how we’d cope otherwise. Fortunately Kyra’s been used to sleeping in the noise of everyday surroundings, so white noise hasn’t been a problem. She sleeps through almost anything! I agree though – missed naps, and in Europe the later bedtimes than our usual 7pm have had a huge impact on general happiness. A lesson we learned quickly!
Thanks for the comment!