Traveling with children of any age is difficult, but the hardest part has to be traveling with babies. There’s little that you can do to entertain a baby – especially one that is strong-willed and wants to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing. Those who have just learned to walk want to exercise this right, and if there is something more appealing on the other side of wherever you’re sat that they want to get to, the struggle that ensues is one to behold. Older children can be distracted by games, gadgets, and conversation; quite frankly, babies don’t want to hear it. There are some tips and tricks to traveling with those who can’t vocalize their feelings – you just need to know which to pick up on and utilize.
Traveling by train with a baby isn’t as common as you would think. People would much rather take a car or a plane to get them to their destination with more convenience. The thing about trains is that there is no restraint to put your baby in – there are no seatbelts, and the seats aren’t designed for little people. Depending on the type of service that you use, you could be forward, backward or sideways facing. You want to be forward facing if you are traveling anywhere with an infant by train. Not least because it’s the safest way, but you’ll soon discover it’s also the easiest as you won’t be grabbing on to rails or other things around you for stability when the train starts to move. This means that there are less hands available to hold onto your baby. If there is a room available (usually on wider trains), keep your buggy up and in a locked position with your baby strapped safely inside. The luxury of this is overwhelming – usually, you would have to pack up your stroller and put it away for use after. Depending on the age or size of your baby, you can get booster seats which are used for eating at the table which have straps on for keeping them contained. If you have booked an extra seat, simply place them next to you – just remember to keep hold of it for any sudden stops. Remember that you can get off the train at any stop (you’ll just need to get back on to complete your journey and do a bit of swapping about with your ticket), as if things go awry with your child – which they are prone to do – you can nip off and get them sorted elsewhere.
Traveling by plane, especially long distance, is most new parents’ nightmare. Not being able to get off at any stops early like you would do with a train, having the pressure of being up in the air all around you in a small space with a lot of other people, most of whom don’t want to hear a screaming, crying or whining baby? Yeah, it sounds like a bit of a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that you have to forgo your travel or your holiday. You just need to make sure that you are super-prepared; there is more baby travel advice that can be found online. There are certain things that you aren’t allowed with you on the plane unless you have bought them in customs. Make sure that you have enough cash on you to get any fluids that they may need for the journey ahead – it’s a great thing to get them to drink as the plane is taking off to help their ears to ‘pop’ on the ascend. Drinks can also be a fantastic way to distract them, as they are more focused on getting their fluid intake than anything around them. Pack your hand luggage with books and things that they can chew on or that will hold their attention for a bit – and don’t forget to stash away lots of snacks for them, especially if they’re weaning. Babies don’t like to wait for their food and have little patience to wait for the air hostess to come round with the trolley. You need to stay one step ahead of the game and ensure that you can meet their needs in a flash before they go into tantrum mode and start disturbing all of the other passengers. You can’t nip back to your bag on a plane and get stuff that you have forgotten about or have packed away for later, so check, double check and triple check that you have absolutely everything you need for the amount of time that you are spending on the plane. Pack more diapers and wipes than you would use in the allotted amount of time at home just to be extra confident that you and your baby are fully covered should a poo explosion happen.
Car journeys are one of the most manageable forms of transport with little children – until it turns into a long distance drive. The great thing about traveling in a car is that you know that they are firmly strapped in and safe and can’t get out to crawl around. Most babies tend to sleep during a car journey, and if you know that it’s coming up to nap time before you start your drive, keep them awake until they get into the car so that they sleep for that little bit longer. All babies want from you when you are driving is for you to interact with them; this is best done by you singing or talking to them. Even talking to yourself as you’re going along is enough to comfort them to know that you are there. If you are driving for a while, remember to make stops to pull over to check that baby is okay. Once every hour is recommended, as there are certain things that you need to check on: whether they’re comfortable if their nappy needs changing, if they’re hungry or thirsty or have spat up on themselves. It also gives ample opportunity for you to get them out of their car seat and give them a stretch. Leaving a baby in a car seat for too long can be dangerous for them – the maximum time that they should be in a car seat is 30 minutes for those under the age of 4 weeks and for older babies it is two hours absolute maximum that they are allowed to stay in it. Keeping them in any longer can affect their posture and their breathing, so you need to keep constantly checking them to make sure that they are okay and things aren’t going wrong.
If you are walking to get to your destination, this is something that your baby will thoroughly enjoy. Putting them into their stroller and letting them see the world around them helps them to learn about different sights, sounds, and feelings (the warm sun, the cool breeze etc). It is also great exercise for yourself. Investing in a sling or carrier is a great way to make it a bit easier for yourself, and is a great way to bond with your baby. Depending on how old they are, they can go either on your front or on you back. It leaves your hands free and spare to do other things, like carrying bags or pulling along a suitcase. There are carriers which are more ergonomic and focus on both yours and your baby’s postures whilst using the sling, such as the Ergobaby, and it is better to go for a sling which keeps the baby facing you to avoid hip dysplasia (which has been attributed in some cases to having the baby forward-facing). Whilst forward-facing may look cool and like the done thing to do post ‘The Hangover’ movie, it’s not necessarily the safest.