Stress Free Holidays with Babies, toddlers & Young Children
Having children should not stop you from enjoying your holiday. With a few simple considerations you really can have a stress free holiday with babies, toddlers and young children. I have travelled on holiday with a baby as young as 8 weeks and as old as three. I have however found it so much easier to travel with a younger baby before they start crawling, so if you are waiting for when the baby is older I would encourage you to go away sooner rather than later and start making lovely family memories.
I have gone on different styles of holidays with children, some have been standard package holidays marketed to families, busy city breaks not usually seen as ‘child friendly’ and also many luxury Scottish hotels for long weekends. All have different pros and cons, but we have always managed to have a relaxing and stress free time.
Packing for a family holiday is quite overwhelming, so these days I do start this process in advance, making lists and laying out clothes in outfits to ensure we don’t take too much. I always use a bag weight to check I don’t go over my luggage allowance. I try to pack a ‘capsule wardrobe’ for each family member so shoes/bags/dresses/shorts etc can all be easily coordinated.
Once I have finalised the suitcases i like to go through all the suitcases and hand luggage to make sure I havent forgotten anything with my husband, and so that he is aware of where everything is for the journey.
I prefer to organise my liquids before getting to the airport, that way there is no last-minute re-jigging of bags. Each person has a small plastic clear bag ready to hand to security. Baby can have liquids in excess of 100ml but these items will be scanned by security. I personally take empty sterilised baby bottles for milk, and then separate pre-made cartons of milk for the journey, plus a couple of baby food pouches and a sippy cup of water. Keeping baby’s items in a bag within her hand luggage ready to just hand to security makes everything really easy and smooth on the day. It has always been really straightforward and I have never encountered problems. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to check-in and go through security, kids do slow you down!
I have always chosen to place the pram into the hold upon check-in. I recommend wrapping the pram in a special pram travel cover to protect it from dirt, grease and the rain.
I have always preferred to then put baby in a baby carrier for the airport experience. It’s nice to be hands-free and baby is always so happy being carried close. When we had just one baby, it made sense for my husband to carry her and I was in charge of the luggage and sorting things out for security.
Now that we have two children, I prefer that he takes control of the older child and all of their hand luggage. The older child has her own snacks and baby wipes and change of outfit so I carry zero responsibilities for these. I then look after baby, and both mine and the baby’s hand luggage. Having clear and defined responsibilities will save any stress and arguments. This is why having a discussion about hand luggage before you leave for the airport is so important, that way there is no room for silly questions.
Sterilising Baby Bottles & Equipment
I have always used the cold water sterilisation method for baby bottles while on holiday, you don’t need electricity, its compact and its fool-proof – just add tap water. You can either use these ready to go bags which are ideal if you only plan to have one trip away in baby’s first year. If you want a more permanent solution this travel steriliser is ideal and can also be used in the microwave too, for cold water sterilising you just need some Milton Tablets.
Creating a Safe Place for Baby to Play
We always take a picnic blanket (one that rolls up & is easy to pack) with us on holiday. The picnic blanket is great for keeping in the bottom of the pram for any parks or beaches that you come across. I always take a small selection of baby toys, ones that are multi-functional and can be used in the pool, bath, beach and don’t take up a huge amount of space. Stacking cups have endless possibilities of games for both baby and older children – they are great for sand castles too!
If you are blessed with a baby that naps, these are your golden windows of opportunity to relax, sunbathe and enjoy a cocktail … I plan my day around naps even on holiday, it simply benefits everyone and most of all me. My total MUST HAVE is a sleep shade. My babies have always enjoyed a short morning nap after breakfast followed by a longer nap after lunch. Baby has an early dinner around 5pm which we would do in a local bar or near the pool, followed by bath, milk and cuddles back in the hotel room. I then place her in the pram like I would the cot and go for a lovely evening stroll with the husband. Once baby is asleep we enjoy a long chilled out dinner with a glass (or two) of wine. As we are up early, around 7am on holiday, we do tend to go to bed a respectable time of 10/11pm so that we aren’t ‘too tired’.
Parenting Roles on Holiday
Once you see the benefits of structure and how the children enjoy the predictability of their day, and more importantly you start relishing the reliability of some ‘me time’ its easier to stick to ‘the plan’ rather than ‘going with the flow’. Working as a team ensures everyone has a great holiday. If both parents try to do ‘everything’, no one gets a break. Taking small bursts of parenting each and then swapping over is a great way to enjoy the day. For instance, one parent can take baby for a swim while the other sunbathes, then the other parent can take over to change baby and take them for a short walk before their next nap leaving ‘Dad’ to cool off with a beer, then baby is asleep and you can BOTH have some relaxing time. Parenting is more of challenge of course when you have more than one child. Now we tend to swap between ‘the baby’ who is much easier to keep content and happy, compared to an active, chatty and boisterous three-year old. We then ‘take turns’ of relaxing time when baby is asleep and encourage the older child to enjoy some quiet time (always helped by an ice-cream!) so we can re-charge.
Watch my full YouTube video about ‘Stress Free Holidays’ below.