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Taking a baby on holiday - what you need to pack and tips for travel

Are you gearing up for your first holiday with a baby and wondering how to pick your destination, what to pack, and how on earth you’ll survive the journey?

That first holiday with your first child is a special time, but it’s also a daunting prospect. 

You’ve got the memories of all those fun, relaxing holidays you had pre-baby, but you’re wondering how on earth you can merge that with the chaos of life post-baby. 

If you’re anything like me you might be worrying about your baby’s routine, how they might sleep abroad, keeping them cool in the sun and what you’re supposed to take with you. 

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How to choose a baby-friendly holiday destination

There are many family-friendly specific holiday companies out there that handpick destinations, hotels and cottage rentals because they are so geared up for families. 

Do your research and remember to look at the reviews and ratings too. 

When looking at the facilities, see what items the holiday venue will include as part of the cost, such as high chairs, cots and other baby facilities. This will save you on a lot of extra luggage and make your life so much easier. 

These companies are all great for booking baby-friendly holidays: 

Baby-Friendly Boltholes

Tots to Travel

TUI

Thomas Cook

Travelling with your baby on a plane or train

Being stuck on a place or train where fellow passengers may not be so understanding about your baby’s tendency to cry for an hour straight.

While it can feel daunting, remember that every parent goes through it and it’s just a case of being as prepared as you possibly can be. Yes the flight or train journey might be painful, but you’re doing this to give you and your child happy memories of their childhood. Look at the bigger picture and grit your teeth through it.

I’ve written another blog post about what to pack in a travel bag for your baby so do check that out.

The key to remember here is distractions. Bring things that will entertain your baby and keep them calm.

Also try to book a night flight where your baby may be more likely to sleep through the trip.

Bring a dummy if they use one as this can help with when their ears pop on the descent.

Taking a baby on a long car journey 

Being in the car with your baby is a little different to the train or plane, because you won’t be able to have them on your lap.

This can make it more likely that they will fuss. On the other hand, I’ve always find my kids nodded off and slept for most of our long car journeys for holidays. 

Motorway driving seems to make babies particularly sleepy, which is ideal. 

You could consider driving overnight when your baby will be most likely to sleep throughout most of the journey and just stop once or twice for your little one’s normal night feeds. 

If this doesn’t appeal, plan where you will stop the car for rests and milk feeds. Get your baby out of their car seat at every stop and give them a chance to stretch out and kick their legs. 

Packing list for taking a baby on holiday 

Tips for taking your baby on their first holiday abroad and how to cope with the travel

So what do you need to take with you for your baby’s first holiday? The temptation is to take everything but the kitchen sink, however you’ll find you actually don’t need as much as you might think. 

If you pick a baby-friendly holiday venue, then you’ll find a lot of the larger essentials might be included. Here’s a list of what you might need to take with you: 

  • Travel cot. Many destinations include one, so look for hotels or cottages that can offer you this as part of the fee. 
  • High chair. If your baby is weaning then you’ll want one of these at a self-catering holiday destination. Again many places should include this as part of your booking. 
  • Portable booster chair. You can buy baby-safe booster chairs that fold away into easy-to-carry light packages. These are great if you’re abroad and there aren’t many restaurants with high chairs on offer for babies over six months.
  •  
  • Sun hat. You can buy baby shades although many babies will just take them off! A sun hat is fine for protecting your baby’s eyes as well as their scalp and face. 
  • Baby sun cream. Check the UVA star rating (four or five stars is best) and the SPF should be at least 30. I have an entire blog post about what to look for when buying sunscreen and 10 of the best sunscreens for babies and toddlers on the market.
  • Light-weight clothing. Take clothes that cover your baby’s skin without making them too hot. Choose light cotton materials. Pack two or three cardigans or jumpers for the evenings when it will get chilly. Remember to pack two pairs of PJs too. 
  • Swimsuit or trunks. 
  • Baby towel. Get one with a hood as these are easier to keep on. The Cuddledry range is lovely.
  • Shoes. If your baby is closer to one and starting to crawl and stand up, you may want to take some very lightweight shoes. If you will spending most of your time at the beach and by the pool, you can get pool shoes which are OK to get wet. 
  • Bedding. Some destinations will provide fitted sheets for the cot mattress, but may not have appropriate blankets. If your child likes to sleep in sleeping bags pack two of these. Check the temperature of your destination, if it’s very hot with no air con then a 0.5 tog sleeping bag will be fine. 
  • Dummy. If your child uses dummies then remember to pack four or five spares, as you may not be able to find the specific make they use at your destination. 
  • Muslins. 
  • Books. Pack around 10 of your child’s favourite books. You could download a few to your iPad to save on packing space. 
  • Toys. Don’t forget your child’s favourite comforter as this will soothe them on the journey too. Don’t pack too many toys, as your baby will be entertained enough by the change of scene and routine. 
  • Nappies. 
  • Swim nappies.
  • Nappy rash cream. 
  • Moisturiser.
  • Shampoo.
  • Body wash. 
  • Hairbrush.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste. If your baby has teeth. 
  • UVA protection tent. If you will be spending a lot of time on the beach and there aren’t going to be many parasols or shady spots, a UVA tent can help give your baby some shade. 
  • Bottles. 
  • Breast pump. 
  • Sterilising equipment. 
  • Formula. 
  • Food packs if you are weaning. Check before you fly whether you will be allowed to take this with you where you are going. Some countries have very strict rules on food coming into the country.
  • Bibs. 
  • Plastic spoons. If your baby is weaning. 
  • Medical kit. Pack plasters, Calpol, antiseptic spray, mosquito spray and remember any other medications your child is taking.

Top family holiday tips 

You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child. I love this tip! Remember that you won’t enjoy it if your child isn’t enjoying it. Book somewhere that is geared up around your children so that they can relax, and you can relax too!

  • Travel insurance is essential.
  • Consider how the flight timings will impact on your baby.
  • Take photos of your travel documents on your phone so that you have copies.
  • Do your research. Look carefully at where you do book and think about whether it is appropriate for you. Check that self-catering accommodation has the facilities you need and is child-proofed.
  • Create lasting memories. Take something home with you from every holiday such as a shell and take lots of pictures. Make photo books after the event.

I hope you found these tips useful. Where are you heading on your summer holiday?

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Taking your baby on holiday - tips for coping with your baby's first holiday
Taking your baby on their first holiday