It's the time of the year to get ready for your family summer holiday you've been waiting for all year. Will it be a tent in Torquay or a hotel in Hawaii? If it's your first family holiday and you're looking for some advice on how to make it as easy and as enjoyable as poss, these ideas will make your holiday run more smoothly…
1) Go with others
Booking a break with your parents or friends who also have little ones makes holidaying with a baby far easier.
‘When you’re self-catering or camping, it’s great to have lots of people to share looking after the children and cooking,’ says Nadine Mellor, editor of Kids Collection, part of travel website i-escape.com. Take turns babysitting in the evening, and you’ll even get to go out for a meal. Bliss!
2) Don't over-pack
We’ve all taken a bulging suitcase of clothes we’ve ended up not wearing on holiday, but it’s tempting to pack lots for a family holiday.
‘Most hotels and self-catering apartments have laundry facilities,’ says Nadine. ‘And most will have the equipment you can borrow if you ask in advance.’ Wherever you can, choose items that can double up – a muslin that’s big enough to use as a light blanket, or a travel cot that’s also a playpen.
3) Pre-arrange a supermarket delivery
Cut down on the amount you have to pack by booking a supermarket to deliver wipes, baby food, nappies and any other essentials you’ll need. If you’re heading abroad, ask the hotel or accommodation owner for a recommendation of where to order from – use the free online translator: translate.google.com.
4) Pack a baby sling
Having your hands free for carrying suitcases and bags while you’re at an airport or on public transport instantly reduces stress levels.
‘If your baby is under one, consider leaving the buggy at home altogether,’ says Nadine. ‘A sling is smaller to pack and you can sightsee or go for a long walk at nap times.’
5) Take a reclining stroller
For older babies and toddlers, a buggy that reclines can be a real lifesaver for the whole family. Only a few lightweight pushchairs offer this option, so look for it when you’re buying if you plan to holiday abroad.
‘It means you can be out and about, or even just by the swimming pool, rather than confined to your room, during nap times,’ says Nadine.
6) Pack items to help settle your baby
Babies like familiar smells, so take a slept-in sleeping bag and sheet with you. If your child sleeps with a favourite blanket, or you put a particular CD on at bedtime, take them with you too. ‘Transfer all the things that settle them off to sleep at home to your holiday,’ says Nadine.
7) Unpack the smart way
Put up your travel cot first – then pop your baby in it to play while you unpack. Make setting up a baby change area just like at home a priority, with wipes, nappies and everything you need close at hand. Unpack what you’ll need for feeding and bedtime next. Everything else can wait!
8) Don’t stress about your baby making noise
Don’t worry about your baby’s crying bothering people in neighbouring tents if you’re on a campsite, or nearby guests if the hotel you’re staying in has thin walls. ‘Parents always think their baby is making more noise than she actually is,’ reassures Nadine. ‘You are hardwired to hear your own child crying, but the noise will bother others far less.’
9) Plan your day around the sun
We all tend to spend more time outside than normal on holiday. If you’re in a hot country (or you’re very lucky with the British summer!), you’ll need to keep your baby out of the strong sun, so it’s a great idea to plan your day around it. ‘Get out and about early in the morning, come back to your room at 11am, have lunch, then a nap (you can nap too!) and then head back out again after 3pm,’ advises Nadine.
It’s a good idea to stick roughly to your usual routine, but don’t be too precious about it. Holidays are meant to be relaxed, which can be hard if you’re worried about naps not happening when they should. Accept that life will go off-piste and allow yourself to take shortcuts you wouldn’t at home.
‘I often get into bed with my youngest to settle him off for a nap on holiday,’ says Nadine. ‘It’s easy enough to snap back into the usual routine of him getting off to sleep on his own when we get home.’
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