Driving (or flying) home for Christmas? Your journey may be slightly different now with a baby in tow, here’s our handy guide on how to prepare for your travels to ensure it’s a comfortable experience for you and your little one
How much you pack will depend on how you’re travelling and where you’re going. Find out what’s available at your destination. Is there a microwave or washing machine you can use? Is there any chance of borrowing a high chair, travel cot, play mat or baby bouncer?
Travelling by plane
If you’re flying, space will be at a premium so less is more. Don’t forget to check with the airline about what equipment, such as car seats and travel cots, you’re allowed to put in the hold. Find more tips about travelling by plane, here.
It’s surprising how quickly you can fill a car with just your baby’s day-to-day essentials. Don’t forget to allow space for your own luggage, any presents you’re taking and any you’ll be bringing back.
Save time by checking your tyre pressure and filling your car up with fuel the day before you travel. Check the weather forecast and if it’s an unfamiliar route look at a map beforehand, even if you have sat nav it’s useful to have a rough idea of where you’re going.
Take familiar things with you for your baby. The feel and scent of their favourite cuddly toy, sleeping bag, blanket or book can all help them feel at ease.
If you’re weaning, a travel high chair is invaluable. You can strap it on to most chairs so you don’t have to rely on restaurants or your hosts having one. Christmas dinners tend to be long affairs, so this will save you having baby on your knee for the duration.
If your baby is over six months old and you’re no longer breastfeeding, don’t forget to pack plenty of your usual brand of follow-on milk. For sterilising bottles, sterilising tablets that dissolve in cold water, or microwaveable steriliser bags are both handy space-savers.
Sleeping & napping
Travel blackout blinds are fantastic if your little one is used to sleeping in a dark room. They stick onto almost any window with suckers creating a dark, cosy environment. Similarly you can get a blackout shade that attaches to the buggy – great for napping on the go at times when your baby’s routine needs to be a bit more flexible.
If your baby uses a soother it’s a good idea to bring a few spares with you, just in case… It’s amazing how easy it is to mislay things when you’re not in your own home.
Bring a large stash of nappies – you don’t want to be dashing around on Christmas Eve trying to find a shop that stocks your usual brand and size. If you’re short on space, you could ask if your host could buy some in for you when they do their big Christmas shop. (The same goes for other bulky items such as wipes and jars of baby food).
Don’t forget teething gel, nappy cream and medicines. Some infant medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are available in sachets, which make it easier to pack light.
If you currently use a big pram or pushchair, this could be the time to invest in a smaller collapsible buggy or stroller. You’ll probably move onto one of these anyway as your baby gets bigger. Most are suitable from birth with lie flat options for napping.
Take a couple of your baby’s favourite toys and books but keep these to a minimum. They’re bound get a few Christmas presents to play with and you can hopefully rely on friends and relatives for entertainment!
Draw up a master travel checklist to use each time you travel. You may find it helpful to break down your list into categories e.g. sleeping, feeding, changing, bathing, play, transport, out and about.
Lastly, try to relax and enjoy the time away. Accept all offers of help, and be sure to take lots of photos of your first Christmas together.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is best for your baby. Follow-on milk is intended for babies aged over six months and should only be used as part of a mixed diet. It is not intended as a breastmilk substitute before six months. Use on the advice of your healthcare professional.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.