Are you jolly excited when it’s jolly-well holiday season again? Jolly excited to be travelling as a family. Jolly excited to be looking forward to a wonderfully relaxing time. “Jolly nuts!” is what we sometimes reflect afterwards once the truth is reinforced upon us about how different our travelling style was B.C. [Before Children], in comparison to the complicated and forward-planning necessity of travelling A.D. [After Delivery].
Babies are gorgeously simple, and nightmarishly complicated little beings – and the pleasurable success of travelling with your most precious cargo, can be predominantly influenced by something primarily completely beyond your control! That is, your baby’s personality.
As ‘baby-whisperer’ Tracey Hogg beautifully defined, it’s whether you have an Angel baby with its amenable disposition who will be good-as-gold; or a predictable Textbook baby who is relatively flexible; or an anti-surprises Touchy baby who is prone to meltdowns; or a fidgety Spirited baby who has a mind of his own and won’t hesitate to tell you; or a cranky Grumpy baby who abhors inconsistency and rarely smiles. Which leads me into…
Hint #1: Don’t Stress. When it comes to travelling with a baby, some things will go awry, that’s a given. Yet some things will go smoothly, and that’s a blessing. Consciously make the effort to chill out and go-with-the-flow. Be fluid, be flexible, be adaptable.
Hint #2: Be Prepared. Cars, trains, taxis, buses – they all have engines and multiple mechanical parts. Subsequently, they all potentially break down, which means, you can never know for sure you won’t be delayed. So try to have everything you need for a lengthy hold up without access to shops, including enough of the basics to tide you over (such as nappies, food, toys, sunscreen, warm clothes, mini-firstaid kit, water-bottle – oh and a bit of lippy!)
Hint #3: Invest in a good Carry-On: Whether you’re on public transport or privately sightseeing, it’s really essential to have a great carry-on bag. Some of the best designs are the back-packs that enable parents to have their hands free. Look for a bag with good structure and reasonable quality, such as a big central compartment, and a few zipped pockets – not one that’s the cheapest thing you could find whose main zip breaks on the second day.
If you’ll be using any public transport, it’s a wise idea to have a bag that’s big enough to hold everything, but still small enough to sit at your feet – rather than needing to grab it down from the overhead compartment.
Hint #4: Compartmentalize. Fall in love with zip-lock bags – they are a Godsend for travelling parents, and they take up less room than little containers. You can put almost anything in little zip-lock bags, and then put all the related items into big zip-lock bags – making it so much easier to find things.
For example, little zip-lock bags with formula powder, spoons, canned food, bibs and damp flannels, all contained within one large ‘Feeding’ zip-lock bag; and little zip-lock bags with nappies, wipes, change mat, scented bags – all contained within one large ‘Changing’ zip-lock bag.
Hint #5: Protect against Convection Heat-Loss: Infants unintentionally loose heat by conduction (touching cold surfaces, eg carseat), radiation (radiating heat to surrounding cold objects, eg drafty window) and evaporation (having wet skin, eg after a bath). A warmly dressed baby can be well protected against most of that heat-loss. However, newborns (4-6 week olds) are also very vulnerable to rapid heat-loss through respiratory convection (lungs inhaling cold air). Subsequently, young neonates should always be in a TNZ (thermally neutral zone) of 25°-27°C.
Symptoms of a hypothermic baby (<36.7°C) are rosy cheeks and lethargy, which are easily misinterpreted as a healthy-looking contented baby. (After the early newborn weeks, an infant has increased fat stores under their skin and around their organs, with a maturing ability to maintain body heat.)
Hint #6: Enjoy! Remember to pack your joyous attitude, “Weeee what a fabulous adventure to have Bubs vomit all over the seat on the bus, that’ll be such an entertaining parenting tale to tell!”