We have never been so desperate for a holiday; be it to the peace of the countryside, the buzz of a city, or the fun of the beach. And the prospect of exploring a new place with your baby for the first time is such an exciting one.
Yet even for the most organised parent, once the initial excitement of booking a holiday begins to wane, so ensues more and more questions about what travel with baby actually entails. Indeed, it's more than a little common for the question of what on earth to take to occupy your thoughts, well, most of the time!
Family travel is wonderful, the ultimate time to bond and make memories. But there is no denying that, especially when you have a baby, it can also be tad stressful, particularly in the run up when you have a trillion holiday packing checklists and lists of things you need to prepare and to do. We've all woken up in the middle of the night with lists of 'car seat, baby monitor, breast pump, etc' running through our head.
Hands up who overpacks on every single family holiday? The fear of forgetting something essential means that most of us end up packing much more than we use; taking three bags when really, if we'd had a decent checklist for our holiday, one bag would be plenty.
Wherever you are heading to on your holiday, be it the beach or the city, the sun or the rain, home or abroad, there are holiday essentials that you'll definitely need to make sure to pack. Other essentials depend on location, duration and the age of your baby. To make life easier for you, we've compiled a handy holiday checklist to take the pressure off packing, so that you can make sure you take everything you'll need.
When Can I Take My Baby On Holiday?
Providing your baby wasn't premature and you haven't had a cesarean section, you can essentially take your baby on holiday straight away. If you are going to be flying, then check with your airline as some stipulate that your baby must be a couple of weeks old. In reality, it's often a good idea to wait until they are at least a few weeks old, to give you time to settle into your new life together at home.
What Do I Need For A Three Month Old On Holiday?
Less than you think! This is actually a great age to travel with baby as they can't yet crawl or move around, which means you don't spend half of your holiday chasing after them. If you are lucky and your baby is a good sleeper, then holidaying with a three-month-old can hugely relaxing.
Make sure your baby is added to your travel insurance and, if you are leaving the country, they will need their own passport. A baby's passport will cost £49 (if you apply online) and lasts for five years. If your baby has formula milk, you'll need to take the bits and bobs to feed them, and if you're expressing then don't forget your breast pump.
A travel changing bag is handy, plus a couple of changes of clothes per day, baby toiletries, and anything that makes it easy for you to carry and move them around. Oh, and lots of nappies! Have a look at the holiday checklist below for a more comprehensive list of things you'll need to take.
What Do I Need For an Eight Month Old Holiday?
Now that your baby is more alert and mobile, it's important to pack toys and distractions to keep them engaged and occupied. Taking something new to focus their attention is a good idea, as are books and a tablet pre-loaded with content that they love to watch. By now they will also need sippy cups, food pouches or jars, and snacks.
Holiday Essentials Checklist
Pushchair or pram.
Blanket or shawl.
Car window shades.
Baby carrier or sling.
Changing bag .
Change of clothes.
Bottles or sippy cups.
Formula or food pouches.
Dummies or soothers.
Passport (if you are leaving the country).
Nappy rash cream.
Baby toothbrush and toothpaste.
Bottles or sippy cups.
Feeding bowls and spoons.
Any other feeding equipment you may need.
Formula or food pouches/jars.
Portable high chair.
Formula or food jars and pouches.
Socks and tights.
Two comfortable outfits per day.
Shoes and/or boots.
Sun hats or warm hats and mittens.
UV swim suits.
Travel plug adaptor.
First aid kit.
Child proofing stuff such as plug socket covers.
Toys and books.
UK Holiday Essentials
Whilst there are many advantages to holidaying at home, the main disadvantage is the unpredictable weather. If possible, have clothing prepared for a variety of weather conditions but wait until as late as possible to do the final pack so that you can check the forecast.
That said, it's still advisable to make sure that you always pack options for wet weather and clothing that allows for the temperature to be colder or warmer than expected. Bear in mind that it may be just as easy to purchase nappies and food items when you get to your destination, which will save on a lot of packing space.
Foreign Holiday Essentials
Passport, passport, passport! If you don't want to wait (or can't wait) then it's possible to get your baby's first passport within a week using the fast-track service, but the standard takes three weeks. Your child should be added to your travel insurance regardless of where you are holidaying, but it really is vital if you are leaving the UK. And, whatever you do, don't forget to pack plug adaptors.
Beach Holiday Essentials
If you're heading off for a holiday in the sun then it's important to make sure that your baby will be well protected. One bag just for beach use should definitely be added to your holiday checklist as it will save you having to pack and repack when you get there, and will ensure that you don't forget any of the crucial bits such as:
Swimsuit and/or sun suit.
Baby sun cream.
Baby insect repellent.
UV pop-up tent.
Swim float or swim aids.
Mosquito patches and net.
Mini cool bag.
Camping Holiday Essentials
If you're opting for a holiday in the great outdoors then it's important to remember that, even in the hottest climes, the temperature can drop significantly at night. A travel cot is a must-have as your baby needs to be raised off the ground to prevent them getting cold. Make sure you have lots of bottled water and know that wipes are your best friend! Insect repellent and sun cream for babies can both be purchased as wipes.
Ski Holiday Essentials
It goes without saying that keeping your baby warm is key when heading for the slopes. Think snowsuit, thermals, hats and mittens. If your little one is walking then they will need snow boots and they will also need sunglasses to shield their delicate eyes from the bright sun. Temperatures inside will be much warmer so pack plenty of layers so that your baby doesn't get too hot indoors.
Don't forget to make sure you have lots of memory space free on your phone or camera so that you can record every moment of this very special time.
Sarah Blake lives in Lancashire and has been a writer for over 20 years. A self-confessed gym bunny and yogi, Sarah loves all things fitness and wellness, and can usually be found wearing lycra. Sarah loves family time and all things fun, but hates anything that involves getting cold!