Time together as a family away from work and the to-do lists of everyday life is a precious thing. But whatever made a great vacation before baby came along might have changed now you’ve got a little one in tow. Here are some tips on how to make magical memories without too much stress.
How soon can I take my baby on vacation?
The answer really depends entirely on how you feel and how your baby’s doing. The first three months after baby is born is often referred to as the fourth trimester. It’s a time when baby and parents are getting used to baby being out in the world. Sometimes there are health reasons you’d rather stay close to home or maybe you just need the comforts of familiar surroundings and family and friends being close by.
You may need to travel with your tiny baby, but that’s a different thing to choosing to go on vacation. They’re voluntary and they should be fun! So, don’t feel pressured into going away with your baby unless it’s something you’ll enjoy too.
If you’re planning on flying, some airlines require babies to be at least two weeks old before they can fly, but beyond that it’s your choice. You might also need a fit-to-fly letter from your doctor. If you’ve had a c-section, wait to get the all clear from your doctor before flying. Tiny babies are more vulnerable in their first few months and airplanes are notorious for spreading germs around the cabin. You might also need to take into consideration when your baby will get their vaccinations.
Lots of people swear that taking babies under 6 months old on vacation is way easier than older babies and toddlers. It all depends on your baby’s temperament and how you’re coping.
Where should I take my baby on vacation?
Maybe you’ve always hit the slopes during the ski season or you need a sunshine fix in the middle of winter. When it comes to dream destinations, everyone’s different. Wherever you’re considering taking your baby on vacation, research as much as you can before you go and pick a place where you’ll be safe and able to find all the essentials and entertainment you need.
- Would self-catering or all-inclusive suit you better?
- Do you want to stay near a town with good shops and transport links or are you happy to be out in the wilds?
- Do you like the idea of vacationing alongside other families or would you prefer a quieter setting?
- Are you ok travelling long-haul or do you want to stay closer to home?
Personally, going on a beach vacation with my tiny baby would have been pretty hellish. Our whole family is very sensitive to the sun and if there’s an insect in sight we get bitten to pieces. So, going away somewhere blazing hot wouldn’t be very relaxing at all. But I know friends of mine who love playing all day in the pool or on the beach with their little ones.
Going on vacation, doesn’t have to mean travelling far from home. Search online for destinations within an hour or two of where you live, and you might be surprised by what’s on offer. You could even decide to have a true staycation and stay right at home for a week. Just be sure to let yourself off all the usual chores otherwise it won’t feel much like a break.
Being honest about what suits you best now you’ve got a baby is the best way to choose your perfect vacation. Having said that, admitting that it probably won’t be perfect could probably help too! I have a friend who says going away with kids is just parenting in a different postcode and without having any of the stuff you need on hand!
What should I pack? Baby vacation essentials checklist
So, just how much stuff do you need to take with you when you’re heading off on vacation with your baby? LOTS is the answer! Of course, it all depends on where you’re going, how you’re travelling and whether you like to have all possibilities covered. If you’re going somewhere you’ve been before, that’ll help you know what you need to take and what you can leave behind. Check online reviews for hotels or resorts and post questions on forums so you can plan your packing.
- Passport – Everyone travelling abroad will need a passport. In the US, it can take 4 to 6 weeks to get a baby’s passport and 3 to 4 weeks in the UK. Check if you’ll need a visa too. If you don’t have the same surname as your baby, you may need additional documents.
- Whatever you need to feed your baby – If you’re breastfeeding, remember breast pads, pump and anything else you’d usually have to hand at home. If you’re bottle feeding, taking a stash of pre-sterilized bottles and ready-made formula can make the journey easier. For when you arrive, take whatever sterilizing system is easiest for you (we used Milton and cold water) and a small cooler to use when you’re out and about. If your baby has started on solid food, take all the bibs, beakers, bowls and cutlery you need and plenty of snacks and ready-made food to make life easier. If you’re flying, normal restrictions on liquids don’t apply to baby food and drink, just check the rules for your airline.
- Car seat, travel cot, stroller – Most airlines will allow you to take a certain number of baby items for free. Car seats that come with rental cars can be expensive and not always up to the latest safety standards, so if you can fit one in, it’s worth taking.
- Travel high-chair – If your baby’s on solids and you’ve got space in your luggage, a foldaway or clip-on high-chair takes the stress out of eating out while you’re away.
- Sling – Baby wearing can be really useful when travelling. It’s helpful to practice before you go, so you know how to get your baby in and out and carry them safely following the T.I.C.K.S rules.
- Blanket or muslins – Large cellular blankets are good as they are easy to use as a single layer or doubled up for extra warmth. Muslins can be used as a towel, light blanket or sunshade. Baby will also like having something to snuggle that smells like home.
- Favorite toys – Take any soft toy buddies your baby can’t do without and a fee lightweight multipurpose toys like stacking cups, tactile books and teething toys.
- Diapers – These take up a ton of space in your luggage so check if you’ll be able to buy them at your destination. Don’t forget swim diapers and a travel changing mat, too.
- Range of clothes – Even if the days are hot, the nights might be cold, so take plenty of clothes for layering plus pajamas, a sun suit and warm hat, depending on the climate where you’re going.
- Baby monitor and night light – Remember plug adapters so you can charge them.
- Travel blackout blind – Light streaming in through flimsy curtains can play havoc with baby’s naps and bedtime, so a blind that you can fix up at any window, but packs up small, is really handy.
- Universal bath plug – Essential if bath time is part of your little one’s bedtime routine.
- Sunhat and sunscreen – See our baby sun safety post for lots of advice on looking after baby in the sun.
- Travel size wash, lotion, cream – Take small containers of all the stuff you’d usually use at home.
- First aid kit – A small kit with the essentials, plus some infant paracetamol and teething treatments. A travel baby thermometer can be reassuring too, if you suspect baby has a fever while you’re away.
- Camera – Now you’ve put all the hard work in to preparing for your vacation, don’t forget to capture the happy memories on camera. If you’re using your phone, check it’s backing up to cloud storage so your pics will be safe if your phone gets lost or stolen.
How can I take great baby photos on vacation?
Vacations are a great opportunity to snap happy, natural pics of your baby. Look for colorful backdrops, interesting framing or an unusual angle. Find settings that are unique to the area that you’re visiting, so you’ll remember your vacation instantly when you look back at your snaps in years to come.
If it’s a sunny day, take your pictures with the sun behind your baby, so they’re not squinting into the sun. If your baby’s an early riser or night owl, turn it into a positive by capturing some snaps at sunrise, sunset or by the light of the moon.
Don’t be tempted to take risks just to get a good shot of your baby. Depending on your baby’s age, you never know when they might decide to start rolling, reaching out or crawling, so keep hold of them in safe surroundings.
Remember to capture some snaps with you in them, too. All too often mommy gets left out of the family snaps because she’s the one taking them. You could have a day or a few hours where your partner or other family member is in charge of the camera, so you get your time in the spotlight.
Sharing your vacation pictures on an app like Lifecake is a lovely way for family and close friends back home to keep in touch with your adventures while you’re away.
Now take a look at our blog Sun, Sea & Savings. How to Save Money on Family Holidays.
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