Going away somewhere on vacation with a young baby may seem like a crazy thing to do when you are already sleep-deprived and exhausted. But with some planning and routines in place, your vacation can really be what it is supposed to be – a time to recharge your batteries and spend time with your family and friends.
Babies are vulnerable to changed routines. They are vulnerable to jet lag, bacteria, and the sun’s rays. But they love spending time with their family. Many babies really enjoy bathing or even seeing new environments, unless they are deep in the phase of stranger anxiety.
Here we’ll provide you with some tips and ideas on how to help baby adjust to the new environment as quickly as possible and how to make the whole stay as easy and pleasant for all of you. It takes a little bit of planning and maybe a few new things to buy, but I can guarantee that it is worth it!
Have a wonderful trip!
Tips For A Great Vacation With Your Baby Away From Home
Stick to the routines
Maintaining your baby’s usual routines can be quite hard or boring when you’re away from home. It might mean that one of you have to head back to your hotel room away from the beach to let your baby sleep or eat, for example. And it you are really relaxed it is easy to forget what time it is.
Well, if you don’t want a very cranky baby, try to maintain his usual routines at least to some degree.
How hard this is will depend on your baby. If you breastfeed and are comfortable with doing it in public and your baby sleeps well in his stroller, you might only have to keep an eye on your watch and you’ll be fine. Other babies are much pickier about where they sleep and eat.
By the way, if your baby is too young to really have any routines yet, then you can skip this tip. Just respond to your baby’s needs as usual.
A place to sleep
Your baby will need a safe place to sleep while away from home. Unless a crib is provided where you are going to stay, I’d suggest you bring a travel crib. Actually, even if you plan to co-sleep, bring an extra travel crib unless you are positive that your bed will be safe for co-sleeping.
Depending on how old your baby is (or if you plan for siblings), you could consider buying one that includes a bassinet.
Other choices you need to make are if you want the crib to have an opening so that your baby (or rather your toddler) can climb out and if you want a mosquito net.
Personally, I would definitely go for the mosquito net! It is very nice to know that no wasps, mosquitoes, spiders or even flies can bug your baby while asleep.
Bring your baby’s pillow
To help your baby sleep better away from home, bring as much as you can of his or her usual sleeping gear. If your baby uses a pillow, bring it, and don’t wash it before you go. His or her usual stuffed animal, blanket or sleep bag may also help. And of course 10 of your baby’s favorite pacifiers. For safety and hygiene in pacifiers usage, read this post.
Feeding your baby
Feeding is of course very easy if you only breastfeed. If not, and you have room for it in your luggage, it can be wise to bring just a few cans of your baby’s favorite foods. Regardless of if you travel abroad or not, it is nice to have something to offer your baby without having to run to the store immediately upon arrival.
But remember, at practically all destinations away from home you will be able to buy baby food if you want. You can of course also easily make your own, if you have a kitchen available.
Consider bringing a portable high chair (example at Amazon). Most of these do however not work well for babies younger than say 8-9 months or so, depending on how strong your baby’s back is. For younger babies an infant car seat works fine for feeding your baby (if you are traveling by car), at least if your baby can cope with not sitting at the table with the rest of you.
Dealing with jet lag
On your vacation, will you travel over several time zones?
Both you and your baby will get jet lag. The difference is that your baby can’t really do anything to either change it or cope with it. Personally, I would not travel more than a few time zones with a baby unless I was able to stay at the destination for more than a week. But of course, it is not always possible to make that choice.
To help your baby minimize the effects of jet lag, try the following:
- Start adapting to the new time zone already at home. Change the bedtime some 15 to 20 minutes every night before you leave. Do this for as long as it is practical – and of course depending on how much your routines have to be changed to adapt to the new time zone.
- Once at your destination away from home, start living according to the new time zone immediately. Eat according to this time zone and try to adapt the bedtime as soon as possible.
- Also make sure that you stay outside in the daylight as much as possible.
- If your baby adapts slowly, make sure you adapt more or less at the same pace. It’s not fun to stay up until midnight only to have to wake up at 3 am to take care of a wide awake baby convinced that it is morning!
Bring a water boiler
If you plan to heat water at all, bring a travel water boiler, or check with your hotel if one is already available in your room. It is very convenient to be able to heat baby food or make formula just about anywhere.
If you are traveling abroad, make sure you bring appropriate plug adapters. Also, check it you might also need a voltage converter to be able to use the water boiler (and all other electronic devices, of course).
Going for a swim?
Are you going somewhere to swim either in a pool or in the sea? Babies get cold really quickly and really shouldn’t bathe unless the water temperature is at least some 90 F (32 C).
Remember that the chlorine used in pools can make your baby’s skin very dry, so it is a good idea to put baby oil on your baby’s skin before the bath.
But remember, oily babies are slippery, so be careful!
Don’t forget to put on a swim diaper before letting your baby dive into the pool! Swim diapers are available both as disposable swim diapers and reusable swim diapers to choose between. Personally, I prefer the reusable ones, both from an environmental perspective and to save space and money.
Sunbathing for babies?
I love sunbathing! Baby skin hates it! Make sure to protect your baby completely from the sun until your infant is at least 1 year old. If you want your baby to have the pleasure of a swim in the middle of the day, try to find some shadow, and use sun protective clothing for babies.
A tip – most such clothing for babies come in one piece. If you have the option to buy a long-sleeve shirt, like this one at Amazon go for it! Combine it with swim diapers and whatever sun protection trousers are needed for the occasion. Then you can use the top even if the bottom is wet from water or some little accident…
Another thing, while direct, strong sunlight cannot be recommended for babies for more than a few of minutes, spending a lot of time in the shade is a great way to get enough sunlight for a person’s body to produce enough of the extremely important D-vitamin. More and more research is indicating that many of our major diseases are related to D-vitamin deficiency and that the past 20 years’ recommendations to avoid the sun more or less completely through clothes and sunscreen have been wrong.
Your baby should never get burnt, and not be exposed to the midday sun, but playing in the shade naked is both nice and healthy.
Make sure you talk to a doctor about immunizations before you leave! If you only breastfeed, your baby is not very likely to get ill from what he or she eats, but any baby old enough to grasp things and suck his or her hands are at risk to some extent.
It can be wise to bring some antiseptic wipes or alcohol hand-rub gel to clean off both your own hands and for example high chairs that you borrow at different restaurants.
Where to go – best baby vacation spots
Want tips on where to go for your relaxing stay away from home with your baby? Visit our section where parents can share their best vacation spots. You can both share your own secret baby-friendly vacation spots and get ideas on places and even hotels and malls to visit with your baby.