When you are on holiday with your baby or child, there are a number of things to bear in mind:
Water safety with babies and children
Travelling to hotter countries often means access to swimming pools, paddling pools and water. Before you leave, check that the swimming pools have gates to keep crawling babies and toddlers away from the water’s edge. If not you will have to be vigilant and keep your child with you, as it is very easy for a baby to crawl off and fall into water.
If you need to open windows on a hot holiday, move all furniture away from the open window. Children will often climb from beds and chairs onto windowsills and can easily fall. If you are staying in a house with a balcony you must make sure that your child cannot fall.
In warm countries, lots of houses and hotels have blinds rather than curtains. Be sure to tie up all looped blind cords and fly curtains, and move furniture away from the blinds to prevent strangulation.
Notify the hotel or holiday home landlord if you need stair guards at the top and bottom of the stairs. It is often a good idea to use a travel agency that specifically provides baby-friendly or child-friendly holidays, as they will have done all the work to find safe hotels and holiday homes for you.
If you do not have a stair guard you will need to ensure that your baby or toddler cannot climb up and fall down the stairs.
If you are staying in a holiday home, you should find all the cleaning products and chemicals when you arrive (in hotter countries there may also be poisonous bug sprays) and put them well out of reach of your children. Keep dishwasher tablets off the ground and if you are carrying medicines you will need to find a place completely out of reach from your children.
When you arrive at your holiday accommodation check that all electrical sockets are intact. You may choose to buy plug covers for the country you are visiting or check they are provided.
Burns and open fire safety
Families tend to do a lot more outdoor cooking on holiday, which is great fun but children can be very curious about open fires, and barbecues may not look hot. So if you are cooking on barbecues or open fires keep your child away from them.
If you take your hair straighteners on holiday do not leave them on the floor as they stay hot and can still burn your baby or toddler for around 10 minutes after they have been used.
Fire and smoke safety
When you are travelling or staying in your holiday accommodation, always make sure you know where the fire escapes are. If you have more than one child make a fire exit plan so that you and your partner and other adults know exactly who is responsible for escorting whose children to safety.
Always take a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm with you unless you know they are provided. Children succumb to poisonous fumes first. It is very important that you do not bring barbecues into a tent or caravan, as the carbon monoxide fumes are poisonous.
Allergies and food intolerances
If your baby has allergies or intolerances it’s worth learning how to explain this in the local language and taking a print-out of items that are safe or not in that language. This way you can also show it to café owners and shopkeepers.
Visit UK support websites for advice about travelling safely with conditions such as coeliac disease, as lots of other families will have good, specific advice for you and you can benefit from all their experience.
On the beach
The beach is a wonderful place for children to play but it is worth bearing in mind several potential – but preventable – accidents.
If your baby or toddler is mobile you will need to keep a constant eye on her, so no getting absorbed in your beach read, unfortunately. Children are so distracted on beaches that they wander off and on a busy beach can get lost very quickly.
Being near water and drowning
The sea is much harder to sit in as the salt water makes children buoyant and, with the action of the waves, even a baby who can sit stably can be easily knocked over into the water. Do not leave them unattended by the sea edge. Your toddler will love to paddle and be held by you in the water, but put them in a good floatation vest and stay in the shallows as the sea can become unexpectedly deep quickly and have dangerous riptides and currents. Also make sure your baby or toddler doesn’t get too cold – babies have a much bigger surface area to volume ratio than adults and lose heat more quickly.
Beach shoes for holiday feet
If your toddler is paddling, walking on the beach or exploring rock pools, comfortable water shoes will help protect them from sharp stones, hot sand or dangerous litter.
Be obsessive about sunburn
Even on an overcast day, skin can burn and people tend to burn more by the sea. If your baby is under six months make sure they spend most of the day in the shade (using an SPF tent). If you are in a hot country, stay out of the sun from 11am-3pm and make sure that your child is wearing a hat and cool cotton or SPF clothes that protect from the sun. Baby sunglasses that can also help with the glare and burning around the eyes.
Apply a thick layer of children’s broad spectrum SPF sunscreen of SPF 50 around 15 minutes before sun exposure (make sure your baby is not allergic to the cream you use).