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Travelling with children: the dos and don'ts of stress-free travel

One of the most common questions I get asked is about travelling with a baby. Even if your baby is in the best routine, travelling can make it worse.

Here are a few of my tips when it comes to travelling with a baby -

1. A couple of obvious ones to start with - have documents ready (baby will need their own passport), leave plenty of time (rushing with a baby is not fun) and be organised & remember to pack essentials (medicine, food, toys etc).

2. Plan your journey - Try and plan your journey around your baby’s schedule as much as you can i.e. leave earlier so baby can sleep in the car for the same duration as they would in their cot.

3. Keep baby comfortable - If your baby likes to be swaddled or has a sleeping bag, then do the same as you would at home. Try to keep routine as much as possible.

4. Take off and landing - Make sure your baby is sucking during take off and landing. Whether it be sucking on a bottle, breast, or a dummy it is really helpful to stop their ears from hurting due to the pressure.

5. Hydration is key - Just like us, your baby or child will need plenty of fluids on the plane. Breast feed, offer water or milk throughout the journey.

6. Keep your routine - Be sure to remember all your child's creature comforts i.e. a certain teddy, dummy, muslins etc to help baby feel the familiar comfort as they do at home. It’s a good idea to take along any items your child uses habitually for comfort or sleep. The more familiar your baby is with their surroundings at bed time, the less chance their sleep will be affected by the change.

Also, remember to take other sleep cues such as music (there are great phone apps available) and maybe a sheet from home for the travel cot. Remember that even in very hot countries, the room may be cold at night. Make sure you take warm bedding and pyjamas.

You may want to stay in the room on the first night of your holiday while your baby goes to sleep. This is a great way to give them reassurance about being in a new place. Feel free to sit near your child so they can see you, but try not to focus your attention on them. You need to show them you are there but that this isn’t play time. The next night you should be able to go back to your normal routine putting them down.

- Time Zone

If your destination is within two hours of your own time zone, I usually recommend for your baby to stay on UK time. Staying on UK time can make it allot easier for both of you.

If you destination is further then I recommend it’s best to just go with it. Try and adapt the routine by a few hours per day. As soon as you board the airplane, try as much as possible to go by your destination time. Babies tend to adapt far better than we do to jet lag, normally they are on the new time within a couple of days.

- Evening Routine

If you are going out try and keep to your babies bedtime routine as usual. Once you have completed your usual nighttime routine, put them into their sleeping bag, into the pushchair and they should sleep while you eat.

- Hydration is key

If you are travelling to a very hot country, remember to offer plenty of fluids. For breastfed babies, this may mean more feeds or even considering feeding on demand in order to ensure baby stays hydrated.

No matter what happens while you’re away, it can all be ‘fixed’ once you are home. It is very rare to undo any good routines and habits in a couple of weeks, so enjoy yourself. If this means going back to survival tactics such as co-sleeping or night feeding then do it. All this can be reversed on your return home.

Find out more about Sleep by Alexandra

Sleep by Alexandra helps your family sleep better so you can enjoy more time together. Alexandra Collingbourne is a sleep consultant specialising in safe, holistic methods of getting your baby, toddler or young child to sleep in a way that empowers parents to live better, happier and with more energy. Specialist postnatal depression & anxiety support is also available for those who need it.

● View baby and toddler sleep services from Sleep by Alexandra here

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