Quiz: Vacay with baby — are you prepared?

If you’re gunning for a relaxing family break, take this baby travel IQ test and boost your vacation know-how before booking.


1. You’re on a short flight. Where will your baby sit?

(A) In her car seat.
(B) She’ll lie in a special cot.
(C) On your lap.


All babies under six months must sit on a parent’s lap, secure with an extension seat belt. Once your child hits 2 years, most airlines will require you to purchase a seat for her. Some airlines provide bassinets, particularly on long-haul flights, but do check before you book. Note also that one parent can’t travel alone with two children under 2, as each child needs to sit on an adult’s lap for take-off and landing.

2. As the plane climbs, your baby needs…

(A) Her storybook.
(B) A feed.
(C) A much-loved toy.


Be it breast or bottle for your baby, or a drink with a straw for your toddler, sucking helps your child cope with “aeroplane ear” — the popping sensation you get as your ears adjust naturally to changes in the cabin air pressure because of the altitude. “Ear problems are often worse on the way down. Giving your child some infant pain relief towards the end of the flight can ease her discomfort,” says GP Dr Carolyn Barshall.

3. What’s the best time to hit the road for an eight-hour road trip with baby in tow?

(A) Morning.
(B) Afternoon.
(C) Evening.


Of course, the best departure time depends on your family’s schedule and what you think works best for your baby. Here’s some advice: Leave when baby is most likely to sleep for an extended period. For most babies and toddlers, leaving at night or in the wee hours of the morning will mean that you can drive a substantial distance before needing to tend to your waking baby’s needs. When she is awake, be sure to get her out of the car for some fresh air every few hours. If your child still sleeps in two-hour stretches at night, you might choose to leave just before her nap.

4. You’ve reached your hotel room with your toddler. The first thing you do is…

(A) Plug in the steriliser and put up the cot.
(B) Scrutinise your surroundings.
(C) Unpack — you can’t wait to get your family into their swim gear and on the beach.


It might seem extreme, starting your holiday by giving your room the once-over, but it’s essential to make sure your surroundings are baby-safe.

• Look out for curtain cords and electrical wiring (kettles/lights/TV) and move them out of reach where necessary.
• Also scan for things your baby might put in her mouth that could choke her.
• Move the rubbish bin and shut the bathroom door.
• Keep glass doors leading onto balconies closed at all times if you have crawlers and toddlers on the loose.

Then you can relax and head to the beach!

5. What should you always keep in your baby’s beach bag?

(A) A first-aid kit.
(B) A bucket and spade.
(C) Swimming diapers.


It’s part of a child’s job description to scrape knees, get splinters in fingers and attract “stingers” with ice cream, which is why a first-aid kit is key.

• A thermometer.
• Tweezers.
• Plasters/bandages.
• Sting- or bite-relief cream.
• Infant pain-relief medicine, such as infant paracetamol or ibuprofen.
• Antiseptic solution, like Dettol.
• Rehydration salts, such as Pedialyte Freezer Pops. These quickly replace fluid and electrolytes lost during diarrhoea and vomiting to prevent dehydration.
• Calamine lotion, to soothe sunburn.
• Insect repellent. Opt for child-friendly, DEET-free versions that contain citronella — such as Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent Spray and Mozz Away. “Strong sprays contain pesticides that are toxic,” cautions Dr Barshall.

6. What’s the main health problem for babies abroad?
(A) Sunburn.
(B) Insect bites.
(C) Tummy upsets.


“Gastroenteritis — a tummy upset caused by a viral infection — is common on holiday. Cut the risk to your baby by only giving her bottled water, and possibly avoiding meat,” says Dr Barshall. If you’re using formula, bring along a steriliser. If your baby does become ill, get her to down plenty of fluids. Water with rehydration salts or diluted fresh fruit juice is ideal. Dr Barshall also advises against travelling with infants to countries that have tropical diseases such as malaria. “See your GP for more advice before you make a booking,” she adds.

Tips for road trips
■ Before you set off, service your car and check that your insurance and breakdown policies cover you for overseas trips. Bone up on driving regulations in the countries you’re visiting, as well as child-safety road laws, since these vary from country to country.

■ Get an early start each day — before breakfast — to give you a few hours driving while the children are still asleep. Stop for breakfast when they awaken.

■ Play car games such as “I Spy”, count cows, kangaroos or other animals, or list groceries by the letters of the alphabet.

■ Bring books and toys to keep your little ones occupied. Also pack lots of DVDs and audio books for variety. If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, consider investing in a portable DVD player.

■ Stop at pleasant rest areas for lunch, so your tykes can use up their pent-up energy in physical activities.

■ Don’t forget snacks and drinks — you don’t want junior getting crabby with hunger. Keep them within reach, so that you can offer them when necessary. Avoid foods that are known choking hazards, such as baby carrots and nuts.

■ Bring blankets and pillows — children sleep better in the car when they feel comfortable.

■ Always put your child in an appropriate car seat and belt her in for safety. If she’s crying and struggling, pull to a stop at the roadside before you take her out to console her.

■ Check frequently that your infant is not struggling for air, since her head may slump forward when she sleeps in a car.

■ If motion sickness strikes, keep windows open and encourage your child to look at things outside the car. Plain, dry crackers will help to settle her stomach.

Tips for flying to another country
For some children, an airplane ride would be an adventure of a lifetime. But others will cling on to you for dear life as soon as you try buckling their seat belt. 

“This is a sign that your child is afraid of fl ying,” says hypnotherapist Sandy Hui. “This fear is not unusual because some kids are naturally fearful of what they have never experienced, or react to fear in a way they have been trained to respond.”

Your child’s fear could be triggered by watching the news or a movie, or listening to adults talk about an airplane catastrophe. “So, never expose your kids to airplanes crashing or hijacking news on TV,” she cautions.

Hui suggests tips to allay your little one’s fears:

Dispel the fear
Talk to your child about any worries she has about the plane trip. Often, expressing her anxieties can offer a much-needed release. If you show that flying is a natural part of life, your little one will view the experience as an adventure rather than a life-threatening situation.

Keep her occupied
On board, use visual aids to reverse a child’s fearful impressions of flying. For example, if you are going to an exciting destination, bring your travel brochures along to give junior an idea of the adventures to come. Keep her occupied with video games or let her watch kid-appropriate in-flight movies.

Photo: iStock

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