Gone are the days when you could simply toss a few clothes and a passport into a bag before setting off on a spur-of-the-moment vacay. Now that you have a baby, your holiday needs a little more planning. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be just as much fun.
“Parents worry about taking their baby away for the first time, but there are lots of benefits for you and her,” notes Sarah Tucker, author of Have Toddler Will Travel, “A trip will encourage your little one to focus on different environments, voices and colours, which is good for her brain development.”
And you may even find that your munchkin is much more flexible than you give her credit for. Here’s how to make sure your honey’s first holiday is one to remember...
Before you set off…
Passport for your little one. Bring your baby, along with her birth certificate and a passport-sized colour photograph to the service counter at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority. There’s also a photo booth if you need to get her picture taken. The counter staff will guide you through the application and you will be notified of the collection date.
Don’t set off for a holiday before your kewpie completes her first course of immunisations, which is at the twelfth week. It’s also not the time to get super-adventurous, as exotic locales pose a risk to everyone, especially kids.
According to general practitioner Dr John Mervyn-Thomas, babies are more susceptible to infection during the first year, as their immune systems are still immature. If you require a jab, your baby will need it, too, but discuss it with your GP first, as young babies should avoid getting unnecessary vaccinations.
Before you book a hotel, ask about balconies, swimming pools, blind cords, smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors. If you’re hiring a car, remember to check the local car-seat laws. Ask if the car-hire firms provide baby seats or if you need to bring your own.
If she’s less than 6 months old, your sweetie can sit on your lap when travelling on a plane, as long as she’s secured with an extension seat belt. However, you can also purchase a full-priced ticket for your baby and she can sit in a car seat next to you — a good idea for longer flights. Once your child hits 2 years, most airlines charge you for a seat. It’s also worth doing research on family-friendly hotels and resorts. Babysitting services and créches make a huge difference to your trip.
On The Journey…
Organise your travel schedule to coincide with baby’s nap times, but if it’s not possible, be prepared — bring a new toy, her favourite books and a variety of snacks. “Prevent ear-popping on flights by nursing your baby, or giving her regular milk or water feeds during take-offs and landings,” Dr Mervyn-Thomas advises. “This will open up the tubes in her ears and equalise the pressure.”
For mid-flight diaper changes, find out if they can set up a diaper-changing station, or if you can use one of the more spacious toilets. Otherwise, bring along a diaper-change kit. If your tyke is a little older, put her in a pull-up diaper, so you can change her as she stands.
When you get there…
While it’s good to stick to a routine, do try to be flexible, too. “Don’t be too hard-pressed to get home from a day trip, so your baby can be in bed at her normal time,” says consultant paediatrician Dr Andrew Cowley. “But do try to repeat certain bedtime rituals from home, like a bath and a story, to help her feel secure.”
However, mealtimes should always remain intact. It’s better to stop and let her have a milk feed and a snack, rather than expect her to wait until you get back to the hotel.
The most important thing — to make sure she knows where mummy and daddy are at all times so that she’ll be reassured when she feels insecure.
Breastfeeding has its advantages on holidays, as you don’t have to worry about sterilising the feeding bottles. But if your tyke is already on solids, remember that fruit — particularly watermelon — can contain unclean water, which can make her ill. Do also avoid unchilled buffets, which is a breeding ground for bugs. And if you’re unsure of how safe the water supply is, stick to bottled water.
Most countries sell leading baby-food brands, you can also check with the tourist board ahead of time. In any case, it’s always a good idea to carry an emergency stash.
Now, it’s time to relax. Take turns with the hubs to catch forty winks, while he tends to the little one. And when your mini-me is napping, grab the chance to unwind. So, put your feet up, let your hair down and enjoy some well-deserved downtime!