TRAVELLING WITH LITTLE ONES
As the festive season approaches, it is very common for families to travel with little ones to meet and stay with family members. Whether this is by car, train or plane, it can be a bit daunting thinking about how to entertain a little one for a few hours in an enclosed environment. I have compiled a few top tips for travelling with little ones, to help keep little ones occupied but to also help parents feel prepared.
What To Have In Your Travel Pack
Whether you are flying or taking a long car ride, it is always a great idea to have a travel pack prepared and kept close, in case of little accidents or emergencies. For older children you may like to pack them individual travel back packs with all their essentials, however with younger ones it may be easier to carry only one bag. Some great options to include in this pack are:
- 2 -3x spare pair of clothes: especially if your little one is toilet training
- Nappies + wipes: Can never have enough of these two items! Wipes can be used in all different situations, whether that be to cool down your little one, clean up messy hands and faces or those poo explosions that always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.
- Hand sanitiser: A great option to have available, especially when on a plane. Having this available just means you don’t need to get in and out of your seats to wash hands before eating. It can also help to keep those travel bugs away!
- Water: Some little ones are known to be fussy about drinking water when it’s not in their favourite drink bottle, so definitely pop that into your pack. It also helps to avoid the constant need to get a flight attendants attention, when your little one is needing a drink.
- Dummy: When flying, it is common for little ones to get sore ears, especially if they have recently been sick. Packing a dummy for younger babes is a great idea as it can help to relieve some of the pressure in their ears and can help sooth your little one when needed.
- Band-Aids: Airlines will carry these in their first aid kits, however it is great to have some close just in case.
- Comforters: If your little one has a comforter, definitely remember to pack one and keep it handy. If you have two or more and they are easy to pack, bring them all just in case one of them gets lost.
- Children’s Panadol: Especially if your little one has recently been sick with a cold.
Snacks + Meals
For many flights, you often have the option of pre-purchasing food off the menu. However, when having fussy eaters, often this can be a struggle. You can never have enough snacks when travelling with little ones. Not only can these help with distractions, it can also help reduce your little one’s frustration if they are becoming hungry and the meals haven’t been delivered yet. If you are taking an international flight, there may be more restrictions with what you can and can’t take, so always check with your airline first if you have any questions. If you have food that needs to be kept cold, most airlines are happy to store it in their fridge, if there is available space and the items aren’t too bulky.
When taking long car rides, it is always great to have some stops and opportunities for your little ones to get out and stretch their legs. However, it can often be tricky to find healthy food or quick snacks. Below are some easy to take snacks, however you can of course add in your little one’s favourites!
- Carrot and celery sticks with hummus or other dips
- Rice cakes with Vegemite or other topping (or peanut butter, however be mindful of potential nut allergies when on a flight).
- Trail Mix
- Veggie chips
- Special treats (chocolate and lollies in times of need)
- Cut up fruit, such as apples, pears and grapes
When flying, most planes now have a screen that provides you access to movies, T.V shows and games. On budget airlines, generally you have to pay for these services and for longer flights these options may not keep your little one entertained for too long.
In the car, having activities ready is a great way to keep your little one entertained for the journey and also helps as a distraction tool. Some great activity ideas for both the car and the plane trips include:
- Colouring in + drawing books
- Activity and sticker books (Kmart always has some inexpensive options)
- Favourite figurine + toy
- Playing eye- spy with items and objects in the plane
- Uno + matching card games
- Spot the difference cards
- Small puzzles
- Playdoh in zip-lock bags (this is an absolute winner for our kids, especially with some small figurines added in).
- Magna-doodle’s (Kmart as some perfect travel-sized ones for $2).
- Invisible ink books
Sleeping In New Environments
It is very normal for little ones to take some time to adjust to sleeping in a new environment, however taking some home comforts when travelling can help to quicken this adjustment. If your little one is use to sleeping with a particular pillow or blanket, think about taking these with you.
Ensuring you have packed their usually sleepwear, comforters and white noise are all great ideas. If you are travelling to a family’s house, often it is easy to DIY block out blinds, however when at hotels or other venues this can be a bit tricky. Most little ones are easily adaptable, however if you are worried you can of course look at investing in some portable back out blinds, or look at taking some aluminium foil and attach it to the windows with water.
Before placing your little one to sleep, let them have time to explore the new environment and allow for some quiet play time in their new sleep environment. This will help them feel more comfortable in this foreign sleep space and will also help to reduce the scare little ones can sometimes get when they forget they are waking in a new environment.
If your little one is in a good routine, try and stick to this when away as this will help to ease the transition when getting home. Of course you don’t want to spend your whole holiday worried about specific nap times and lengths, however keeping the foundations of sleep consistent is beneficial.
Tips for flying
- Feed babies: when taking off and landing as this can help reduce the pressure in ears
- Arrive early: Often airlines will allow families with little ones to board the plans first, so helps to avoid the hassle of trying to sneak past everyone. Arriving early also allows little one’s time to explore the airport and watch the plans taking off and landing.
- If you are flying and needing to take a car seat with you, most modern car seats are actually airline approved and can be used on the plan as a seat. This can help to reduce the cost of extra baggage, but can also provide some home comforts for your little one when settling to sleep on the plane. If you have any doubts about whether you can take the car seat on-board, contact your airline and they will be able to provide you with more information.
- For older children having something they can chew on and eat can help to relieve the pressure on ears and avoid them getting blocked.
Tips For Long Drives
- Leave earlier then you need to- it is normal for little ones to become restless and need to stretch their legs or use the toilet, so knowing you have time to make these stops helps to make the car ride more enjoyable
- When possible, try and schedule stops during your little one’s wake time and the longer driving periods for when they are asleep.
- If driving during the day and your little one is used to sleeping in a darkened environment, you may like to look at purchasing a window-shield to help block out some of the sun.
- Research any good rest areas or play grounds on the way and aim to have lunch there. This gives you a break from driving, but also allows little ones to run around and burn off energy.
As Christmas time in Australia occurs during the summer months, most families will spend time at the beach. It is such a great way for little ones to burn off some energy, experience sensory play with the different kinds of sand, rocks and shells as well as explore and search for different animals and practice swimming. Some great things to remember to take with you are:
- Sunscreen: There are many different products on the market, however some are better than others. I would suggest to look for some sunscreen that has 30+ SPF, water proof and is cancer council approved. I would also recommend to patch-test your little one before applying, to ensure they don’t have a reaction.
- Beach Bag: Invest in a big, quality beach bag. This will help to make trips too and from the car easier and also helps to be able to keep everything in one place.
- Esky: When running around and swimming all days, little ones will develop quite the hunger. Having a quality esky allows you to be able to pack snacks and lunches, so you don’t have to go searching.
- Beach Tent: Everyone needs some vitamin D, however prolonged periods in the sun can cause you to become dehydrated, sunburnt and tired. Having a cool place to sit and have a nap is a great idea and most modern beach tents are light and easy to fold.
- Activities: Beach balls, Frisbees, shades, shovels and buckets are always great time wasters.
- Quality Swimmers and bathers: We put the boys in wetsuits, as they provide more protection against the sun and help to keep them warm on cooler days. However you can always look at putting rash-shirts over your little ones swimmers as well.
Stay Calm and remember it WILL be okay.
I know many parents feel overwhelmed by the thought of switching up the routine or travelling for any period of time and I do understand, especially when you have worked hard in helping your baby or toddler sleep well. However it is so important to live life and enjoy holidays. I often say holidays are just parenting in a nicer location because you never fully get to switch off or take a break, but it is nice to relax the normal order of the day and embrace spontaneity where possible.
Remember, if it all goes poorly and you have a tough flight or car trip it won't be the end of the world. Yes it may feel stressful and challenging but it WILL pass and you will survive. Focus on your breathing and remind yourself to stay as calm as you can. Try not to fret or worry as often our little ones surprise us, children are ada ptable and will enjoy a change from the usual surroundings and routine. That said, if your little one IS in a routine you may find he or she adapts even better to new surroundings when it comes to sleeping and eating as he or she will be well equipped to fall asleep independently and used to eating at similar times. If you are struggling with broken sleep overnight or bedtimes are a lengthy and difficult process for your baby or toddler, please reach out so we help. We offer unlimited support and guidance for all of our programs.
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Enjoy your holiday and feel free to tag us in any of your vacation photos, we love seeing the sleep mama community!