As the holiday season approaches, it’s likely you may travel to far away places to spend time with friends and family. Some will face crowded airports and delayed flights, while others will face crowded highways and long road trips. Successfully maneuvering holiday travel can be challenging. Traveling with a small child can be even more challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m reminded of an old saying, “proper preparation prevents poor performance”.
Here are some tips that can make traveling with your baby easier:
- Dress your baby in layers. It’s a great tip for adults, and it also applies to baby, especially if you’re not always in control of the environment, like going between chilly airports and stuffy plane cabins. Even if driving your own car, the temperature differences from front seat to back seat, position of the sun coming through the windows, and differences in individual comfort levels dictates more or less clothing. It’s easier to adjust baby by adding or removing a clothing layer than redressing.
- Be sure you have plenty of baby wipes. Anything new that baby might touch along the way, such as airplane seats and trays, restrooms, restaurants, even friendly strangers, are a target for a disinfecting baby wipe. Baby wipes mean a few less germs for baby and a little more peace of mind for you.
- Pack your own food. Be sure to include favorite snacks and mealtime foods. Keep baby on a familiar diet and schedule. Not only can this help avoid an upset stomach or an allergic reaction, but the snacks can comfort and occupy a fidgety baby.
- Keep baby’s sleep schedule. Tired babies are more irritable and difficult to manage. Younger babies may not feed well. A lack of sleep may make baby more prone to getting sick.
- Use a carrier or stroller. If you’re moving around new, less controlled spaces, a stroller keeps your crawler contained and off the floor. It will also help you navigate with baby and luggage and whatever else you may be managing.
- Have a diaper plan. Calculate your diaper count in advance and carry more than enough with you. In a familiar area, you can always buy more, but it’s nice not to run short in transit.
For the long road trips, remember car seat safety. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most dangerous thing that U.S. children do as a part of daily life is ride in a car. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older. It is important to correctly secure your child in a properly sized and installed car seat. Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible within height and weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Most kids can use a rear-facing car seat until they are about 4 years old. If it’s time to upgrade your child’s car seat, check here for top rated choices.
Children will become restless on a long road trip. Bring along new as well as familiar lightweight toys. A new toy can fascinate and captivate for a long time. A familiar toy can be reassuring and calming. Also plan for regular stops every couple of hours for stretching and potty breaks. If possible, the non-driving parent should spend some time sitting in the back seat with baby. During awake times, this helps occupy baby while riding in a rear-facing car seat.
Also, think ahead to your destination. Whether staying in a hotel or with friends and family, baby’s safety is top priority. Remember the outlet covers, door knob covers, cabinet door handle locks, toilet locks, and other childproofing gear you use at home. Some rearranging may also be needed to move dangerous objects and breakables out of your child’s reach.
Earlier, I mentioned the importance of maintaining baby’s sleep schedule. It’s also paramount that this be safe sleep, just like at home. Depending on a baby’s age and size, there are portable bassinets, rocking sleepers, playard sleepers, and travel cribs/playards. You can provide a safe and controlled sleeping environment with one of these products. And, if you’ve used this product at home, the familiarity can be comforting to baby. Check here for more sleep safety tips.
Lastly, let’s talk about germs. Yuk! It’s important to protect your baby from other people’s germs. As you know, the holiday season is also cold and flu season. People get sick, and they make other people sick. When babies gets sick, it can be a real problem given their immune systems aren’t fully developed. You may need to play defense to keep your baby healthy in the midst of well wishing family and friends. Here are some tips from WebMD:
- Make hand washing a rule. The most common way of spreading an infectious disease is by touch.
- Redirect. If you can’t stop the hordes from touching your baby, you can exert some control over what they touch. “Parents should ask people to touch or kiss the baby’s feet instead of the hands or face,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D.
- Carry hand sanitizer. Before you let someone handle your baby, hand them a hand sanitizer, with a smile of course.
- Crowd control. With a newborn (1-3 months) just avoid large family gatherings and crowded places like malls.
- Screen guests. Check to see if people are sick and remind them how vulnerable little babies are to germs.
- Invoke a higher authority. Cite doctors orders. Advise them your pediatrician warned against germ transfer with touch and the risk to small babies.
- Follow the vaccination schedule. While a controversial subject, experts are unanimous: one of the most important ways of protecting your kids from other people’s illnesses is to make sure they’re getting all their vaccines.
- Remember that you are the parent. It’s easy to feel cowed by pushy relatives clamoring to hold your baby. But remember, this is your kid. You’re in charge and it’s your responsibility to keep your baby healthy. If you’re not comfortable with other people holding him, just say so. People might be more respectful of a parent’s wishes than you expect.
Happy holidays and safe travels!