Monday, November 11, 2013

Travelling with a baby 0-12 months

Most mothers dread going out after having a baby! Gone are the days when you could just grab a purse or just mobile phone, keys and card and go! Well travelling with kids is the other extreme. You have to be prepared for everything and more, if you could, you wish you could carry your house along, in case you might need it too!! Well this pretty much explains why most new moms avoid travel! Not to mention the unflattering figure you might perceive yourself to be in! Well all of the above is not really true! Be proud of your mommy figure and work hard to get back in those pre-mommyhood jeans, am sure each one of us will succeed!
Now getting back to dragging your house along for travel! Good idea! Well not really! As far as I was concerned, the nomadichic in me could not sit at home for long, within the first three months of mandated rest I was up and riding a motorcycle, a car and was really aching to do my first trip with Baby A!
First few times I literally took the home with me except the walls! But I learned quickly that the babies really don’t need everything! Just a bit of each thing! Okay whatever does this mean! :P
Here are some common things which a mommy on the go always needs to have on person no matter how long or short her travel is! In case of short travel, this becomes an exhaustive list, in case of long travel, it becomes her go-to bag!
Diaper bag essentials
1.      Diaper bag: I too used a lovely cute diaper bag for a while, It’s pretty handy but soon I graduated to carrying a backpack! Its way more convenient and easy to carry! The diaper bag can be used over a shoulder or used as a sling bag but in case you have to carry your baby in your hands, then this bag suddenly becomes very unwieldy! A backpack is very well balanced on your back and the weight is evenly distributed on your shoulders so you don’t have aching shoulders or cramps in your back, apart from having to carry the baby as well! But each mother can have different needs and she knows best her needs and style quotient too! J
2.      Inside the bag! : Well diapers essentially, cloth diapers or regular ones depending up on what you prefer for your tiny one’s tush! How many is the golden question here! Well, generally babies require a diaper every 4-6 hours and if their potty timings are pretty irregular, you would want to carry a few more! Depending on the number of hours you will be out, always carry diapers accordingly and just add 2 more to the count in case you feel the need to! For example you have changed the baby’s diapers just before leaving home and you shall be driving for 5 hours with two breaks in between, carry 3 diapers, one in case you really find the diaper filled in the due course of the journey and 2 more in case you really need to use them! But it is unnecessary burden to tug along the entire case of diapers for each and every journey. I have a small tote, which holds 2 diapers, a small packet of wet wipes, disposable bags, diaper rash cream tube, small plastic sheet and a small toy. This is the only thing I carry on most trips around the city. I rarely have needed more than that!
In case of long trips, it would be ideal to have this tote or small bag, and additional 5 diapers in the bag. Remaining diapers can either be stashed inside the big luggage bag or ideally brought at the nearest supermarket at your destination. This saves a lot of space and weight while travelling.
3.      Wet wipes: They come handy for so many situations! Just carry a small packet in your regular tote and put a larger box inside your main luggage in case of long distance travel.
4.      Small plastic sheet: This comes handy when you are not sure of the surroundings where you shall lay down the baby to change, even at airport changing stations, it’s better to have your own plastic sheet, (which you duly wash when at home) before laying down the baby.
5.      Disposable bags: I have found the pet poop bag dispenser better than the designed for human version! :P it’s easy to find one in most places and pretty light weight. You may choose to get a regular baby diaper disposable  bag dispenser!
6.      Small toy: Always carry a small toy which makes a small interesting sound and can be held by the baby. A small wooden or plastic rattle is your best bet! When you are changing the baby, it might try and turn or simply cry…you have too many things to pay attention to at that time, so you’d rather give this tiny toy to your baby to entertain itself while you get the work done! Works like a wonder if the toy is known to the baby.
In addition to these basics you can keep adding stuff to the mommy tote for long term trips, a few long trip essentials are
1.      Baby carrier: Trust me till your baby is over 20 lbs it’s your best bet! I totally love my beco baby carrier!* It came in interesting print and color, the baby loved its feel and it was so easy and comfy to carry! I have used it on numerous plane journeys, on walks, trails and even treks! Yes I have trekked with Baby A through dense woods which ended in a waterfall! And she was nearly 22 lbs that time! It’s easy and fun and always worth it! And while travelling by any mode of public transport from buses to planes always wear your baby! never carry the carrier in luggage! You can thank me for that later! :P

On a trek with Baby A in the carrier!

Do your research well, get a carrier which is not too bulky, you can wear it yourself alone without any assistance, be sure all the buckles and clasps are of high quality and snap perfectly in place, there are no poor stitches which might come off during use.
Also the material should not only look good but also be breathable. It’s always better to get a cotton based carrier; you can clothe the baby according to weather rather than having a bulky weather-proof carrier.
2.      Stroller: The most light and effective stroller worked well for me. Just the plain fold able wonder with basic hood and safety features. I was looking for a stroller that I can easily carry through airports and fit into overhead bins of a plane if there was a need to…Strollers come in various sizes, shapes and wheel arrangements. If you see yourself travelling frequently via planes or public transport, the small fold able strollers are your best bet, in case of local travel, jogger strollers or the bulky weather-proof ones should be great. Depending on your most encountered road conditions and weather conditions you should buy a stroller to keep your baby safe and riding smoothly in the stroller. Always keep one cuddly toy stashed in the stroller for the baby to play with in case the baby is bored with the sights around or it can double up as a pillow in case the tiny one decides to take a nap!
3.      Spare clothes: Spare clothes for the baby are the obvious but surprise surprise, keep a spare set of mom/dad clothes too in your travel tote. Why? Well if you are travelling with the baby, it’s bound to delightfully smear gooey applesauce, some milk burped off or some such icky thing on your clothes too! And no one quite likes to smell of formula or milk or applesauce, if they did, they’d make perfumes of such smells! Gahh!! :P
So my dearies always keep a spare shirt or tee-shirt for you as well while travelling.
4.      Small engaging toys: The gizmo age generation quite entertains itself with numerous smart phone apps! They are delightful and saviors in so many situations but then again, there better be some engaging toys when the phone batteries decide to die! Ha ha! Just carry one or two of them and if it is a long trip, carry a few more in the main luggage and keep rotating the toys so the baby feels it has something new each day.
5.      Small blankets or wraps: Keep one of these goody wraps in your tote, it can be the small baby blanket when the baby dozes off or something to quickly place your baby on to, in case you need to change the baby in airport or strange bathrooms, also if you breastfeed and need an extra cover, just tuck this blanket’s edge in your shirt close to your neck and voila you have a quick breastfeeding cover!
6.      Baby food: Okay! This one was pretty easy and forgettable for me! I breastfed baby A till she turned one! So I was the on-the-go snacking station for her, helped her n me a lot through all those flights, the take offs and landings have been a dream! She could easily snuggle close to me and also drinking milk kept her from crying and the air pressure change did not affect her. Not breastfeeding? feel odd about breastfeeding in public? well for starters you shouldn't feel so! It’s your baby’s birthright. In case of your baby being on formula it would be ideal to carry a thermos of warm water and dry formula, so you can mix it on the go. In case of air travel, they will allow you to carry one flask or thermos but there are always Starbucks outlets, they sell you full fat milk and spare some warm water too! You can always buy distilled water in case you run out of boiled water for the baby! :)Always carry some disposable liquid soap, a bottle brush and two milk bottles and one water bottle for the baby. The soap and brush come handy to rinse off the bottles in the long journey. And in case your baby is already on cow milk, just carry ice-packs and buy milk on the go. Pour the milk directly from the milk carton into the bottle and adjust for water quantity in case you add water to the milk or else the baby can directly have milk without warming it as you’d do at home. Just ensure you buy pasteurized whole milk. Carry one snack like raisins or gelatin sweets in your tote as emergency distractions. For other snack ideas refer to my blog post on Home-made baby food  here.
I also found the new squeeze food packets very handy while travelling i found Happy baby and Plum organics very safe n relatively chemical free!*. In case you use them, keep a small baby bib and spoon handy!
This is a long post, of course reading a long post once is lot easier than lugging around the whole house!
A few more parting tips
Carry essential medicines for the baby in case of overseas travel or any journey longer than one day. Also always try and follow the food and sleep timings of the baby even across time zones. For e.g. you are travelling from say India time zone to any other, as a mom or primary care-giver always keep your wrist watch on India time and follow that as your baby’s time-keeper till you reach your destination and have slept through one night in the new time zone, then slowly shift the baby to the local time zone.
Happy travelling! It’s easy and beyond all of this above its your own positive enthusiasm that carries you through! Read on my own semi-horrific travel misadventure with my baby on my blog nomadichic: Homecoming…it still did not deter me from travelling so much with Baby A, it’s always a delight!!!Read here about another delightful travel tale with baby A Trek on baby!

* I have not been paid to endorse any of the brands mentioned above! It is a happy recommendation after using these products over a period of time!


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