With a chill in the air, you’re probably looking ahead to the summer; you may have even booked a family holiday abroad this year (lucky you!). If this is set to be your baby’s first holiday, it’s not unusual to feel a little anxious about travelling with an infant. Though you should expect less of a jam-packed schedule and a slightly slower pace, with proper preparation you’ll enjoy a more meaningful experience by sharing a holiday with your little one. From start to finish our handy guide will help you to get the most out of the time together.
Choosing a baby-friendly holiday destination
When it comes to choosing your family holiday destination, there are things you will need to consider that you wouldn’t have needed to think about as a couple or solo traveller. The most family-friendly destinations tend to be all-inclusive; paying a little extra for things like food on tap can be invaluable when you have a young child with you. If you have older children too, the kids’ activities on offer are bound to keep them entertained - after all, sun-bathing isn’t much fun for little ones (nor is it recommended)!
Keep your flight-time short (below 6 hours); any longer than this and the experience may prove stressful for both you and your baby. European holidays are a hit with families for this reason; you can soak up the sun whilst keeping your travelling time short.
Finally, check the seasonal weather forecast of your destination before booking as holidaying during the height of summer may not be suitable. Soaring temperatures aren’t baby-friendly, because babies have trouble regulating their body temperatures; visiting a hot country out of season will enable you to keep you baby cool. Generally speaking, an average temperature that sits within the mid-20s is a manageable heat when you have a small baby.
What to pack for a holiday with your baby
Holiday packing for a baby may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s easy to let your mind run away with you when thinking about what you might have to take, but the reality is that you won’t need to carry as much extra luggage as you think. With some smart packing, you’ll still find that you’re prepared for any eventuality; the checklist below covers the essentials your baby will need for a standard trip abroad.
- Apply for your baby’s passport well ahead of time. It will take approximately 3 weeks to arrive. Also ensure that your child is covered by your family travel insurance before setting off.
- Take your baby’s usual necessities, including a travel changing mat and bag, a baby monitor, some toys and a mix of cool and warm baby clothes. Think carefully about what to take when packing your baby’s holiday outfits - the functional should always outweigh the fashionable!
- Put a few packs of baby wipes in your suitcase and one pack in your hand luggage for the journey. For additional peace of mind, you might want to keep a pack of antibacterial surface wipes handy when you’re out and about.
- Extra-gentle formula sun cream will be kinder to your baby’s sensitive skin and protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Baby-friendly mosquito patches are enriched with natural essential oils that are known to prevent insect bites, keeping you all nibble-free!
- If your baby is at that age, don’t forget to pack some teething gel.
- Sachets of baby ibuprofen and paracetamol should be packed in your hand-luggage, with spares in your suitcase for the holiday. As a precaution, put a travel-sized first-aid kit in your suitcase too.
- Lidded baby bowls, cutlery, bottles, sippy cups and a travel steriliser will make mealtimes easier. Your baby won’t appreciate an all-you-can-eat buffet yet, so be sure to pack baby food and milk formula too (if you’re not breastfeeding).
- Pack enough nappies to last for the first couple of days; local supermarkets will stock them when you’re running low (but be sure to plan the route to your nearest supermarket before you arrive). If you’re using cloth nappies, you’ll need to consider what facilities will be available where you’re staying; you may need to hand wash your nappies if there are no on-site facilities. Think about the weather too; if you’re staying somewhere hot you’ll have less trouble drying out your freshly laundered cloth nappies, but if you expect cooler weather you’ll need to pack a few more! Think about how many you’ll need to take; disposable liners may be a useful option as they allow for easier cleaning. For the beach or pool, you’ll need swimming nappies too. You can buy nappy liners, nappy wraps and neoprene nappies in our shop.
- Antiseptic cream is a multi-tasking must-have for holidays. From nappy rashes to sunburn, it’s a perfect all-rounder for your toiletry bag.
- Large muslin cloths are another multi-tasking essential. Whether you’re cleaning up spills or want some privacy when breastfeeding, these cloths are great for days out. Get yourself a multipack; you’ll be thankful for the spares.
- Bring your baby sling and/or a lightweight pushchair. Your buggy will need to be checked in as hold luggage, but whether there’s an additional fee for taking it on board or not depends on the airline - contact yours in advance to avoid any surprise costs. If you’re planning to visit a beach while you’re away, you’ll almost certainly need a sling - pushing a buggy on the sand won’t be easy!
- Taking your baby’s own blanket or bedsheet with you can help them to settle in a new environment. The familiar smell of home will provide comfort in different surroundings.
Packing for the beach
Nothing says ‘summer holiday’ quite like the beach, and your baby will love the new sights, sounds and smells of the seaside. Knowing what to pack is essential; get it right and you can spend the whole day relaxing by the sea! Aside from the obvious (snacks, sun cream, sling etc.), you’ll need a few extras to make it a real success.
- Pitch a pop-up tent for the day. It’ll make the perfect play or nap-time area for your baby when the sun is at its height; having a shaded area is a must, especially if you’re planning to stay out for the day. Babies of 6 months or under should be kept out of direct sunlight; using a travel cot with shade is a good option for young infants.
- Bring some spare baby clothes. It’s important that you encourage your little one to enjoy the sand and sea, but it’s crucial to put them in clean, dry clothes after playtime. A UV sunsuit is your best bet for the beach, providing added protection from the sun. Find boys’, girls’ and unisex sunsuits in our shop.
- Make sure your baby is wearing a sun hat for the day; a hat with a neck flap will provide optimum protection.
- Beach toys like a bucket and spade will keep your baby entertained; manage the day by balancing your time between sea, sand and rest.
- Baby towels are an essential for the beach; our hooded baby towels will keep your little one extra snug when they’re out of the water.
- Sprinkling talc-free baby powder onto sandy skin will remove any residual grains (trust us, you’ll never go to the beach without it again!).
Beach safety for your baby
Whilst the beach is a fun place for you and your baby, keeping everyone safe and sound is obviously of the utmost importance. First-time beach babies are likely to want to explore, and it can be difficult for parents or carers to know where the boundaries should be. Truthfully, you shouldn’t underestimate your own intuition; the most effective ways of staying safe tend to be the most obvious (like always keeping an eye on your baby), but there are some things you should be vigilant about when it comes to beach safety and your baby.
- On arrival, set up ‘camp’ in a clean spot that’s not too close to the water’s edge. This means you won’t have to move when the tide comes in.
- If you’ve pitched a tent for your little one, ensure it doesn’t get too hot inside.
- Try to stop your baby putting sand, shells or pebbles in their mouth, but if they do, don’t panic! Simply get out as much as you can and give them something to drink.
- Keep hold of your baby when you’re in the sea and stay in the shallows where you can sit down and grip them safely; even the most able of water babies should be held tight at all times!
- Babies can dehydrate quickly in a hot climate, so ensure they’re always hydrated. As an additional measure, take a spray bottle filled with water to cool them down throughout the day.
Whilst there are certainly more things to think about when travelling with your baby, broadening their experiences early on can have a hugely positive impact on their development. After periods of stress or monotony, straying from routine by taking time out as a family is often just the thing you need to mentally realign yourselves. Though it can seem daunting beforehand, planning ahead will ensure your baby’s first holiday goes swimmingly!