The year-end holidays are just around the corner. Are you developing a serious case of wanderlust? Or are you thinking twice about going anyone further than your neighbourhood mini-mart with your mini-me. We won’t lie, travelling with a tiny tot can be nerve-racking. Besides the packing (why do little people need so many things?) and the flight (did you say 18 hours?!), let’s not forget the jet lag on reaching your destination. Yes, it can be all too overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be awful. If you are determined to travel with your tyke, these tried-and-tested tricks should kick-start your jaunt venture with junior on the right foot.
0 to 6 months
· Most babies are ready for overseas travel by around 3 months, when their immune system are developed. Still, pick a destination that’s baby-friendly and not too far, plus a transport mode that’s manageable. Also, you need to consider weather and hygiene issues.
· Do let the airline know you’re travelling with a baby ― it might even arrange for a bassinet for you and offer baby food if she’s started on solids. Letting your munchkin suck (by breastfeeding her, or on a bottle or pacifier) will ease painful air pressure from her ears during takeoffs and landings.
· Dress your baby for quick and easy diaper changes, such as in a onesie that’ll give you quick access to her soiled bottom without needing to remove her trousers, socks and shoes. Also pack extra clothing in case of emergency or if the plane gets cold.
· Bring along hand sanitisers and antiseptic wet wipes. Try and keep germs and illnesses at bay from your infant by wiping down your tray table and armrests.
6 to 12 months
· While your newborn might have snoozed just about, um, anywhere, an older baby who is sitting up and crawling might feel frustrated at being confined during the journey. So, ensure that he’s comfortable before you set off ― not too hot, not too cold, doesn’t have a dirty diaper and isn’t hungry or thirsty.
· If you baby has started taking solids, plan how much baby food to bring or find out if it’ll be available at your destination. The airline staff are usually more than happy to store it in the fridge and help you to heat it up.
· To keep boredom at bay, pack a bag with several of bubba’s favourite toys. Examples include teething rings, stuffed animals, board books and baby-proof mirrors.
· When travelling abroad, go for a compact, lightweight stroller. You can check the stroller in with your baggage or check the stroller at the gate as you board the flight (you’ll receive a tag for the stroller). By the way, baby carriers are a great option if you’re keen to keep your hands free, especially during hectic transits.
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12 to 18 months
· Since your toddler may feel unsettled away from his usual routine, try to pre-empt any tantrums by staying on top of his needs ― for food, drink, a clean diaper and even special attention.
· While you may frown at passing the iPad at him back home, there’s no shame in entertaining him with a movie or a new app during a long flight. It could save your life in those 12 hours ― and your fellow passengers will thank you!
· Don’t have just lots of snacks on hand, stashing comfort items in your carry-on can help, such a blanket or junior’s favourite lovey.
· If your little one is toddling, make sure he’s always safe, particularly when you’re on unfamiliar ground overseas. A portable playpen you can plonk down in hotels or a relative’s home creates an instant child-safe area. Plus, it also doubles up as a familiar place for naps and night-time sleep.
· As your mini-me gets older and starts to grasp the concept of “going on a trip”, consider his interests when deciding on a suitable destination. For instance, you know he’d love visiting farm animals in Perth (a manageable five-hour flight from Singapore) more than European art galleries, which would be at least a 12-hour-long journey.
· Holidaying somewhere cold but finding it difficult to dress your mini-dynamo? Tog him out in easy-to-add and remove layers that will keep him comfy and warm. Invest in or borrow a quality jacket and a pair of sturdy shoes he can wear daily when he’s out.
· As he’s still a tot, you’ll need to give junior a sense of what he can expect during the trip to minimise nasty meltdowns. Before you jet off, share photos of the hotel or Airbnb apartment/house you will be staying in, the type of room he’ll sleep in, as well as the places he’ll visit.
· At bedtime, keep his routine as normal as possible. Make sure he has his preferred plushie with him and a night light (if he’s used to one). Also show him where you’ll be sleeping, so he’ll feel secure. If he’s used to sleeping in total darkness, make sure the curtains block out the morning sun well. You might have to add several towels or even bring along a portable blackout curtain.
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