Thursday, June 10, 2010

Travelling with an infant - a few helpful suggestions

Today as I went down for my daily walk in the park along with my daughter, I saw a young lady standing morosely in the lobby, a crying infant in her arms and a barrage of baggage round her tired feet. Of course I could not just walk away from the duo in distress, so I decided to check in on the matter myself.

On questioning, the woman told me that her baby was a little girl barely 4 months old and that she was new in the building and had just returned from a stay with the woman's parents (that explained the bags). On further probing, she told me she and her husband were planning an outstation trip soon, but with the way the baby was behaving, she was doubtful if it would be a good thing to travel with the baby.

"What is there to worry? It is much more easier than you think it is. And not really that difficult as some people might make it out to be."

"Is it? You think we can travel with her, I mean just me and my husband and her, without anyone to help us?"
"Of course. Just keep a few simple things in mind and you are all set."


Traveling with a baby can be quite a task, as most parents will tell you. Not only do you need to take constant care of the little one, you also have to be well prepared to handle all possible baby requirements, while being on the go. Keeping a few basic things in mind can help make the journey hassle-free and fun.

The markets today are flooded with baby bags of different sizes and features, as well as baby bags for twins. Most of these bags are water proof, washable, have separate areas for storing baby bottles, diapers, clothes and other knick-knacks. You can have a zipper bag, buttoned bag, string-up bag, or even a stick-on bag, depending on what is more comfortable for you to use. Check the length of the bag’s handle and also how strong it is, as a lot of baby’s things as well as yours, will make its way in here.

Most of the times, a baby will feel hungry and sleepy and cranky at the exact time that you have decided to throw things in the bag and start to move out of the house. To avoid forgetting things and to save yourself a last-minute rush, prepare a list of the important things that you will need for the baby and stock in most of it in the baby bag. For your own convenience, always keep 02 fresh diapers (apart from the ones in your luggage), a wipe box, some old newspapers, a wrap, an extra empty and clean feeding bottle, a soft cloth, a change of clothes and 02 bibs in the baby bag. These are things that you will need each time you go out with baby and having to stop mid-way in your travel to buy wipes or diapers is not convenient, especially if there are no stores nearby. Also, keep some rattles and toys in the bag, which you know your baby is fond of.

While planning your trip, gather information on the weather conditions and temperature of the place you are visiting. For hot climate, baby will be most comfortable in light cotton clothes. For a colder climate, keep extra woolens, warm socks, caps and wraps. Always keep some extra items of clothing than you think is required. Keeping some extra wraps and blankets is always a good idea, as these can also serve as baby’s bedding, as and when needed.

If your little one is less than 06 months old, chances are, you have not yet started any top feed, liquids or solids. But IF you have, and for older babies, keep a spare feeding bottle/sipper, some spare nipples and a cup. If your baby has started solids, keep an extra spoon and plate or dish. Do not forget the bib.

If you have started baby on powdered milk, remember to keep the bottle of milk powder in the baby bag. In case you have started baby on solids, carry some baby biscuits, crushed cornflakes (if baby likes), breads, carrot sticks, apples, bananas and other such non-messy foods that baby is familiar eating and the doctor has okayed.

While getting ready to travel, always remember to keep a medical kit in your luggage. A baby medical kit should have wipes, a mild antiseptic, cotton, baby thermometer, nappy-rash cream, baby lotion, baby oil, baby soap, baby shampoo, baby talc, baby comb or brush, bandage, a pair of scissors. Consult with your baby’s doctor before going out. If possible, get a baby wellness checkup to be sure your baby is fit and fine. Always keep the contact number of your baby’s doctor handy. Inform them beforehand that you may call if required. In case your baby is on medication, remember to take the medicines as well as the prescription. Also carry a liquid mosquito repellent if possible.

If you are traveling by air with your baby, make sure you inform the airlines about the same at the time of booking. Ask for a seat with extra leg-room. Baby meal is available in most of the flights, but be sure to carry some milk or supplements. To avoid ear pain during take off and landing, feed baby while aircraft is making its ascent (during take off) and descent (during landing). If you are not comfortable feeding the baby in a craft, try putting your finger in baby's mouth, or a pacifier if you use one. If you have started baby on water you could try that as well.

In order to have a safe and pleasant trip, it is advisable to be careful about certain basic things.
1) Babies are most comfortable when they are in their familiar surroundings or amidst people they know. In most cases, this is the mother and father, sometimes grandparents too. If baby is crying or irritable, take them in your arms and soothe in a soft voice. Often the best way to calm a terrified baby is by rocking them in your arms and softly singing a favorite rhyme or song in their ear.
2) If baby is finding it difficult to sleep in a new environment, lightly massage legs, arms, back and head with mild baby body oil.
3) Make sure baby is in comfortable clothing.
4) If the weather permits, you may give baby a warm bath just before bedtime and follow it with a warm bottle of milk or feed.
5) Never try a new routine or new activity for baby in a new setting. The unfamiliar surroundings and change in routine will only make baby more insecure, thus adding to baby’s woes as well as the parents'.
6) Always be careful of who your baby is with. Never let strangers be alone with baby, even for a minute.
7) Regularly check baby for nappy rash.

A few very simple and basic measures for new parents but I think all of us who have a child would agree how useful these usually are.

And as for my new neighbour, well, a couple of weeks later she invited me home and we sat together over coffee, checking out the snaps of the trip on her laptop.
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