We recently took Freddie on his first UK holiday and I have to admit to feeling quite apprehensive about what it would be like to go away with a baby for the first time. I had built it up in my head as potentially being really stressful but actually I couldn’t have been more wrong! We had the loveliest time and I felt it might be helpful to share some advice/tips to help your trip away run smoothly. Especially if you’re heading off on your first family holiday soon and are a bit of a worrier like me. This applies mainly to holidays or trips that don’t involve flying- we are yet to tackle an overseas trip. Maybe next year!
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that when Freddie turned four months the car suddenly became his most hated place EVER. These things helped to make our journey a lot more bearable.
- Express a bottle of milk – I made sure to express a bottle just in case of a real meltdown or if we got stuck in traffic. This really came in handy when Freddie had a bit of a screaming fit shortly after we set off. He drank about an ounce, calmed down a bit and reassured me that he wasn’t hungry.
- Download your baby’s favourite shows onto an Ipad/phone- Freddie loves the Go Jetters and the Octonauts so I made sure to have those ready just in case.
- We bought this toy which attaches to the back of the seat a few weeks ago and it has really helped to keep Freddie amused for short periods of time. He especially likes playing with the mirror and kicking the rollers.
- Plan your stops ahead of time- this is an obvious one but really important if you have a baby who doesn’t like the car. We knew that if Freddie got really upset we had places we could stop for a feed and to give him a bit of a break.
As it happens he was brilliant and slept most of the way there but I’m glad we had all of the above just in case.
- If you have a travel cot consider bringing it with you because it will be familiar to your baby and will smell like home- lots of places will provide these for you but we felt better having our own because we knew how to put it up/take it down and Freddie had sleep in it before.
- Replicate your bedtime routine- Freddie slept really well whilst we were away and I think it was because we repeated what we would usually do at home (albeit slightly different in terms of the actual time!). We brought his night-light, sleepyhead, sleeping bag, white noise and book with us and it seemed to help him to know when it was time to go to bed.
- Consider self catering apartments/villas- We liked having the flexibility of being able to eat at our hotel room, especially because Freddie is a grumpy pants if not in bed at a certain time. Instead of eating out in the evening, we ate out at lunchtime and then cooked easy but yummy meals whilst Freddie was in bed. It was also useful with a baby who is only a couple of months into weaning and a bit of a messy eater!
- If you have space in your car, consider bringing a bumbo/baby snug. We have this one and not only was it really useful for feeding Freddi,e but also acted as a safe place to put him down.
- Bring a baby carrier- Freddie has always loved being carried but when travelling it is just so convenient to wear him. That way you don’t need to worry about parking the pram anywhere or where it will go when you are at an activity etc. This was also great for swimming as after an hour or so of being in the pool Freddie was definitely ready for a nap and dropped off within minutes after being put in the carrier.
- Mix structured activities with just going with the flow- We tried to avoid having to be anywhere at a certain time to reduce the stress factor and enable us to be a bit more spontaneous. We did book a baby sensory session which Freddie absolutely loved and I arranged this for first thing in the morning as I knew it was a time he was likely to be awake and content.
- Plan in some ‘me time’- As well as spending time together as a family, I think it’s important to also have some time out for yourself. My husband took over naps for the four days we were away and it meant I could wander off for a coffee alone or just squeeze in a little nap. I felt so much better for having a bit of time to myself and it made me realise just how important it is to recharge.
(Center Parcs have amazing swimming pools that are super child friendly but these things would apply to visiting any swim park/pool.)
- Bring a baby swim wrap, we brought this one. Someone on Instagram recommended this to me and it’s fab. It is made of wetsuit material and easily velcros on and off. You pop it over the top of a neoprene swim nappy and it kept Freddie really warm (and helped us to keep a good grip on him in the water).
- Bring a ring like this one- I wasn’t sure how useful this would be but we could not have spent such a long time in the pool without it. Freddie loved being in it whilst we drifted around the lazy river and it also doubled up as a safe place to put him whilst we got changed!
- Ditch the baby towel- we found it far easier to wrap Freddie up in a big adult sized towel when we got out rather than his usual hooded baby towel. He didn’t make a fuss at all when it was time to get changed and I think it was because the larger towel kept him nice and warm.
I really hope this post helps you to have a stress-free holiday and to look forward to spending time together making memories as a family. As this was our first holiday, I am definitely not an expert but the advice above worked for us and helped me to relax too. I would love to hear any advice you have for travelling with a baby, let me know by leaving me a comment below!
Thanks for reading,