Traveling with a baby can be stressful, but it can also be wonderful. They're getting all these new experiences and taking everything in. It's such a special time. But it's natural to feel anxious if you haven't been away from home much with your baby. Here's a few things that worked for us.
Create a familiar sleep environment
Chances are, baby is going to be sleeping in a portacot while you're away. Being a new environment, it can be hard for them to go to sleep. This is where familiarity can go a long way!
Take your baby's normal sleeping bag/blankets with you. We took our Woolbabe which was perfect for the chilly weather, and is one of my daughter's biggest sleep associations. She just knows when we put that on it's time for sleep.
Take your white noise machine or use your phone. Staying in hotels or apartments can be noisy, and white noise is brilliant for blocking out sounds that might wake them. If your baby has a lovey or soft toy they love, make sure you take it with! Even if they don't cuddle it yet, having a familiar item nearby can really help them feel at ease.
Keep the bedtime routine the same
Our bedtime routine at home is usually bath, boob, cuddles and then bed (one day I'll introduce books but for now she just wants to eat the pages). While we were away, I tried to replicate this as much as possible.
We didn't have a bath but instead we'd have a nice warm shower, then into pyjamas followed by boob and cuddles. Then finally, we'd do the usual songs and cuddles before popping her down for sleep.
I am very lucky and my daughter is a very good sleeper, but we didn't have any issues with sleeping while we were away. Bonus! I do think though that both this and the above really helped.
Do the things you'd normally do (within reason)
Obviously you can't do things that babies can't do, but it's important that you still enjoy your holiday! Balance out the things that you want to do with 'kid friendly' activities. Go for hikes if that's your jam. We love going on nature walks as a family, so it was a no brainer for us to pop baby in the carrier and hit the trails.
Go out for meals, visit attractions, or shop if that's what you like to do on holiday. Taking your baby along for the ride not only gives them new experiences, it teaches them that not every minute of the day is about them.
If baby needs a break, give them one
This one is really important if you want to enjoy your holiday. Babies get overstimulated really quickly, and can suddenly be in full meltdown mode with very little warning. If you notice your baby starting to get a little scratchy, make a plan to give them a break.
We were out for dinner with friends on our trip and my daughter hadn't had a decent afternoon nap after sleeping in the car. She did amazingly well for a good hour or so, but quickly became overstimulated.
I quickly removed her from the situation, instructing my husband to bring home my meal in a takeaway box and we retreated to our apartment. When we got back to the apartment she was so worked up! I stripped us both off and hopped into the shower for some skin time and relaxing warm water. She very quickly calmed down, and it meant she was ready for bed after her usual routine.
Even though it's important to do the things you want to do, you also need to be willing to sacrifice a hot meal if your baby needs a break. They rely on us to look out for their best interests!
Give your child new experiences
This one is closely related to doing the things you'd normally do, but it's more about taking baby along for the ride and sharing experiences. If you're out for a hike, take it slow and show your baby things along the way. Let them touch the trees, hold a smooth river rock or dip their toes in a stream. I enjoyed our hike so much more getting to observe the wonder in my daughter's eyes when we spotted a tiny Rifleman flitting between the trees.
Removing ourselves from the day to day routine gives both us and our children valuable opportunities to grow and learn. Not to mention the language opportunities! There are so many things to talk about on holiday - perhaps it's how cold or warm it is. Or the big mountains or sandy beach.
Have you taken a holiday with your baby? What other tips and tricks do you have for ensuring a successful trip?