How to travel with a baby or toddler according to an expert


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Invest in a travel pram

Unbeknownst to many new parents, prams that fail to fold to a precise measurement will be summoned to the hold by most airlines. This can make boarding and exiting the plane a warmed up nightmare. Babyzen Yoyo are two magic words passed around parent networks like heirlooms. Designed by Parisians for narrow staircases and old labyrinthine European cities, this pram easily rises to the challenges of travel. It folds down into a flat, hold bag shape that is flung over your shoulder, then bursts out with a flick of a wrist into a fully-formed pram. It’s also the password at check in, in nearly all countries. ‘Yoyo?’ was a question followed by smug nods, then a hand gesturing towards departures – the platform 9 and three quarters of parenthood. Not only is the pram light enough for single parents to do the bus-train-coach-plane dance, the same brand’s car seat can clip onto the pram, ensuring sleeping babies are left undisturbed from the car to the airport, while ensuring that taxis or coaches without baby seats are not a problem.

BABYZEN YOYO² chassis & colour pack bundle

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Book a bassinet in advance for long flights

This is mettle testing territory. Once several hours of film-and-food joy with the odd flight sock concern, long haul flights now require days of preparation and military-grade strategy with babies and young children. The most pressing task at hand is securing a bassinet – often something you can only reserve over the phone once you have booked your tickets, and depending on how busy the flight is, is not always guaranteed. I also recommend checking the bassinet measurements as they tend to differ between airlines and larger babies may be too long (ours was at 11 months) and will need to upgrade to a toddler bassinet.

Pack your hand luggage with military precision

With flight times increasingly unreliable, it is prudent to choose the right flight bag and pack as much food, milk powder, nappies and clothing as possible. I was once caught out after landing at an airport, where we were asked to wait on the plane. The milk formula had run out and two bottles were dirty. I had a changing episode on the Eurostar with spare clothes wedged in a case behind several others and a gruelling three hours of standstill traffic on the A303 with no dummies to hand and a screaming, hungry baby. I always travel with at least six Little Freddie baby food pouches, five piccolo fruit pouches and clean spoons, as well as Organix snacks and enough formula for two days. The French often use Evian instead of sterilising water for their babies, which can be a good back up if there’s no kettle in sight, or time for boiling water to cool, and you’re desperate. If you use dummies with your baby, they are an excellent mute button and even help with air pressure on their sore ears when flying. After learning the hard way, I now fly with 5 packs of two, sterilised and ready to roll.

In flight bag, £650, Anya Hindmarch

Anya Hindmarch in flight bag

Babymel Georgi eco convertible backpack

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Time feedings to take off and landing when flying

One of the best pieces of advice I was given came from a Maltese mother who flies regularly between London and Valletta. “Put them on at take off and landing, or give them a bottle.” While breastfeeding is a little fiddly with the infant seatbelt airlines provide, this or bottle feeding works magic on fragile ears, preventing them from popping with the air pressure. While on the topic, it’s worth investing in zip-up bottle insulators, if you like a particular temperature for milk and take-off may be a little delayed. The Tommee Tippee ones’ Velcro onto a pram or a bag and reduce the stress involved in milk temperature.

Tommee Tippee bottle bag, pack of two

The Elvie breastpump is ideal for when you’re on the go

Every mother finds herself in different feeding situations, none of which are right or wrong. If they choose to (or need to) pump, different models work for different sizes, levels and lifestyles. I had the conundrum of deciding to travel and work again shortly after my daughter was born, while still wanting to breastfeed. I found the Medela pump powerful but restrictive (you have to bed in and hold them against you unless you buy the bra they spout out of). The Elvie, however, was one of the best investments I’ve ever made (I bought two). These clever pumps charge up and slip into your bra, hooking on without the need to hold them and collecting milk in plastic containers underneath. It freed me up to write, drive, fly and walk while this magic piece of tech pumped away, incognito. I’d pump and freeze, pump and freeze, which bought me time to travel for work and prevented my milk flow from drying up. I’ll never forget a few odd looks on a flight to Antigua, when battery lights flashed in bright red through a thin top, Austin Powers style. For those travelling for pleasure (or work), they can sit on a plane, train or car and pump, handsfree, making good use of dead time.

Elvie single electric beast pump

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Portable blackout blinds are the key to getting a good night’s sleep

It’s the ultimate, unsightly classic that instantly ruins luxury hotels’ considered interiors, though its absence threatens to ruin the entire affair: the blackout blind. Babies and young children’s sleep patterns can make or break a holiday. And while there is a raft of elements to consider when preparing for different snooze settings and time zones, the blackout blind is a trusted, tried-and-tested friend whose plastic suction cups leave little-to-no trace on plush hotel windows. Buy several, as you never know how many windows you’re working with. For sleeping on a long flight, another useful tip is the Cozigo. Even the best little sleepers will struggle with the plane’s constant light disco. What’s more, there’s a lot going on – someone queuing for the loo, a trolley rattling past – it’s all overstimulating. Cozigo’s are tent-like structures that clip onto baby bassinets and toddler sleeping chairs, cocooning them in darkness with zips for parents to peer in and take them out to change them. They also double up as pram shades for most models, which are great for snoozes in hot countries.

Tommee Tippee portable blackout blind

Consider a portable option if your hotel doesn’t have a bath

Some hotels don’t have baths, especially in Europe where trips to Madrid, Milan and Sicily finally compelled us to buy a portable baby bath (babies are slippery and holding mine in the shower or a small sink felt deeply uncomfortable and dangerous). We tried both the inflatable bath and the portable bath – the latter proved more efficient and the former, while an effort, decidedly more comfortable. Inflatables can be easily squashed into suitcases (don’t forget the pump), whereas the fold-flat sorts are often a bit large and heavy for flying and best suited for staycation-filled car boots. If liquids are an issue for short haul flights, Childs Farm does mini travel sets for babies – a brand we have personally found to work gently with sensitive eyes and skin.

Alytimes inflatable baby bathtub

Take a foldable highchair if your little one is eating solids

Without doubt one of the smartest inventions, the fold-up travel high chair has seen me through many airports, restaurants and hotels. More a booster seat than a high chair, it fixes onto most chairs (arty, fat-backed chairs sadly don’t qualify). Polar Gear’s is affordable, easy to pack and light to carry. From Hotel Byblos’ balcony to smart Spanish restaurants shrugging awkwardly when I’ve asked for a highchair, this has been a lifesaver and is never left behind on our adventures. It’s greatest selling point, from my experience, is allowing you to get the messy affair of feeding a baby over with on a terrace, before heading out to a restaurant with milk, some games or books and a good hour for parents to enjoy each other’s company without a child lobbing spaghetti bolognese at expensive art.

Polar Gear travel booster seat

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Swap waterproof nappies for smart swimwear

Save space in your suitcase otherwise taken up by a bulk of waterproof nappies (which are notoriously terrible for the environment) and buy a few ‘Happy Nappies’. These sit snugly on babies’ and toddlers’ thighs and tummies, preventing any unwanted accidents. Long-armed, UV swimsuits are brilliant for protecting delicate skin from the sun and with ties, in my experience, are the only sort that stay on for longer than three seconds.

Take a Snoozeshade on summer holidays

Unless you’re taking turns sunbathing while someone looks after the baby, those long afternoons of oil-lathered skin and book pages baked in the sun are well and truly over. Sunbathing is out, shadebathing is in – small tots can’t hack the hot weather and it takes them a lot longer to cool down than adults (we also learned this the hard way, spending more time in air conditioning than the Indian Ocean on a recent trip). Snoozeshade are a stellar invention for keeping babies cool and in the shade in warmer climes. They Velcro onto prams, allowing cool air in and keeping unwanted insects and harmful rays out. In my experience, they help babies drift into an afternoon nap when they’d otherwise struggle with light, and are the ultimate alfresco restaurant accessory if you think they’re about to nod off.


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