Whether you are planning a trip to the grocery store, the local state zoo or an out of country tip with the family, all parents will find themself needing to travel at some time during their child's life. Being prepared and planning ahead can mean the difference between a miserable trip and an enjoyable one.
If you are traveling with an infant or young child, expect to spend the majority of your time entertaining them. Experienced parents know that if you create a home away from home for your child, the trip will go smoothly. If possible, bring along the daily comforts of home. A swing, bouncy seat, toys, pack and play, pacifiers, bottles, diapers, baby wipes, first aid kit, medications, etc.
When planning for a trip, allow felxibility and room for change. Young children are not predictable and may quickly create a change in the plans. Allow for this. A 7 month old that is learning how to crawl may not be happy sitting through a nature presentation for very long. It is best to limit the large activities that you do in one day. Try to keep your child on their regular schedule, or as close to it as possible. This includes naptime, bedtime, meal times and any other specific points in the day that have become familiar and standard.
On any trip, pack drinks, snacks and easy to feed meals, if necessary. You know that your child will want them, so go ahead and toss them in the diaper bag or stroller compartment. Your child may refust to eat lunch that the airline has provided and you may need a backup plan.
For travel by car, make sure that your child's carseat is safely installed. Pack plenty of car-friendly activities that will keep your child entertained while on the road. Plan to take frequent stops so that the child can get out of the car to stretch and run around. Sitting still for too long can become quite uncomfortable at times, leading to a fussy baby. If time allows, find parks, museums or other small attractions that might be fun to stop at along the way.
For travel by air, it is best to contact your airline for specific rules and regulations regarding young passengers. While at the airport, make sure to allow plenty of time to check in and board the airplane. Ask about getting the child their own seat next to you on the plane if nobody is already sitting there. Some airlines are happy to block out the seat if small children are flying. To get assistance from the airline crew, board the plane first and depart last. If you do not need help, it may be best to board last to give your child extra time to freely move and stretch in the airport. Make sure to pack baby wipes, diapers, change of clothes, formula, bottles,small toys, pacifiers, immunization records, identification cards, medications and other important items in your carry on. If you will need to eat on the plane, bring your own baby food or convenient foods for your child. They may not like what the airline has to offer. To get the most amount of time from toys, purchase something new that can be wrapped as a vacation gift and only give the child one toy at a time. Remember that the safest way to fly with a baby or young child is in an approved car seat. Your child will be most comfortable in clothes that are comfortable. Avoid layers in the event that a change is necessary.
Make the most out of your trip and take plenty of pictures. While traveling with children may not always be easy and structured, it can make for the most memorable trips in your life. Have fun, relax and enjoy!
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