Keep your cool when holidaying with babies and toddlers. If you want to see more than one place, be realistic about what you can cover with little ones in tow.
The less you feel you have to pack in, the more enjoyable and stress-free the holiday - and you'll be better able to take the odd day indoors in your stride if the weather is bad or the kids need to rest. Come to an agreement about the way you'll split the bills taking into account the smaller share of expenditures for the children.
Getting an identity bracelet that has details of your child's medical condition, treatment and their doctor's name is useful in case of emergencies medicalert. Allergy UK produces cards in 27 different languages allergyuk. If you swap with another family you can end up with a child-proofed home, toys to play with and insider information on things to do and healthcare services.
The following websites may be useful: Other low-cost options include farm stays and university accommodation venuemasters. Most hotels and guesthouses provide breakfast, but unless it's included in the room rate, it's often a waste of money for children, particularly if they only eat a piece of bread or a bowl of cereal. If breakfast isn't included, try asking for 'complimentary' ones for the children.
Alternatively, you could take along something to snack on for the first day, and buy in a simple breakfast to eat in your room thereafter. Ask how many children are cared for, whether groups are split according to age, and what specific activities might be - and be prepared to check it out yourself when you arrive. If anything seems amiss, be prepared to cancel your plans and start looking for alternatives. So even if you do want to keep things flexible, it's worth pre-booking for your first few nights: When making the appointment, mention the ages of your children and ask if they need to come to the appointment; when you go, bring everyone's vaccination records, and ask the doctor to note down their blood groups for you.
If any of your children has a pre-existing medical condition, ask for help in identifying a doctor in your destination who specialises in the same condition. Children under 18 months won't be given any travel-related jabs. You'll also need to make sure you take ample supplies of insect repellent, clothes to cover everyone up in the evenings and, if the place you're staying in doesn't have them, bed-nets impregnated with insecticide. As children are usually prescribed smaller amounts of the same antimalarials as adults, this means breaking tablets into pieces, so it's a good idea to buy a pill-cutter; these are widely available and cost next to nothing.
As many countries require visas to be collected in person by applicants including children , you may have to make a trip to the main embassy in your country, although it's often possible to apply in writing first to avoid two trips.
If you have an adopted child, you must take their adoption papers; and if you're the only parent travelling - regardless of your marital status - you might be asked for proof of consent from the other parent for your child to travel.
If the name on your child's passport is not the same as yours, or if your child bears little resemblance to you, the chances of this being an issue increase. The standard requirements for authorisation to travel are your child's birth certificate, your marriage certificate if applicable and a signed and attested consent letter from the other parent confirming you can travel with your child. If the other parent is no longer alive, you may need proof.
You could explore maps, or the history, geography, animal and plant life of your destination, or read books or watch a film that's set there. If the food is likely to be radically different, research dishes that they might enjoy, and try rustling up something similar before you go. On the move 15 If it looks like you're going to be weighed down with mountains of bags, you may want to send on suitcases and bulky items such as prams via a baggage delivery company. There are also companies that specialise in delivering baby products such as formula, baby food and nappies - try babiestravellite.
Although some hotels offer beds for babies, they're often pretty poor, with saggy mattresses and no shields to prevent babies from falling out. It's better to play safe and bring your own. Most carrycots come with a detachable cover for the body and a shade for the head, and some have a built-in net screen as well.
Apart from the obvious protection against the sun and bugs, these are useful for blocking out glaring ceiling lights - such as in airports - which tend to bother babies. Travel cots that break down into several pieces and pack away into their own bag are useful for babies and toddlers too large for carrycots.
Carrying babies in a sling strapped to the body is a popular option; both hands remain free and you can detect changes immediately, sensing the moment your child wakes, sneezes, or has a stomach cramp. Slings are the perfect travel aid: They're suitable for babies over a week old, measuring at least 53cm tall and weighing more than 3.
If your destination is unlikely to have paved paths, it may be worth investing in an all-terrain version. If it's likely you'll be in really dense crowds, promising a reward for staying together works as a good incentive. The parent carries a tracking device - about the size of a TV remote control - while the child wears a watch-like contraption. Should the distance between the child and the tracker exceed the user-defined range, or if the bracelet is removed, an alarm sounds.
Furthermore, once the tracker sounds the alarm, you can push a button to set off a bleeper on your child's bracelet to help you track them down. For sterilising small items on the move - for example dummies or teething toys - you can use sterilising tablets in a watertight screw-top container.
If in doubt, try finding some female company, perhaps in a women's clothing shop. Another idea is to head for the ladies' toilets of a posh hotel; these are usually spacious, with seats and pleasant surroundings. Air travel 24 If you'd like to be met at check-in and helped with the children and the bags all the way to your plane, ask for 'meet and assist' services when booking your flight. This is generally provided by the airport and not the airline, and whether or not you get it depends on the availability of staff - but if you're travelling as a single parent with more than one child, you'll be given priority.
Facilities such as a supervised place to leave hand luggage, comfortable chairs, free drinks and snacks, TVs and spacious toilet facilities are especially welcome when travelling with children.
If you're not a member, you can often use the lounges if you buy a day pass. The more stringent regulations relate to carrying liquids, gels and creams, which includes baby foods, drinks and nappy cream.
The standard instructions are not to carry over ml of any single item, although exceptions are usually made for essential medicines or supplies for children under two. You can also get away with more up to ml in the way of milk and drinks so long as these are decanted into bottles and no-spill cups; if you carry the same in the original cartons or bottles, you'll be asked to leave them behind.
There are also discretionary limits for baby food - these are generally kept vague, but as long as you don't have more than what security staff deem to be a reasonable amount for the flight, you'll usually be fine. The best way around the restrictions is to decant creams into small bottles, and bring just powdered milk; you can get hot water to make feeds on most flights, and as soon as you pass security, you can buy bottled water too. When you get to the airport, you usually join a fast-track queue to hand over your checked luggage.
Similarly, train stations which feed airports occasionally have check-in facilities, meaning you're then free to board the train with the children but without the bags. Some airlines allow you to check in luggage in advance, sometimes as much as a day before you fly. Though you have to make an advance trip to the airport to do this, the advantages are that you get to turn up a little later than usual on the day, and will have your hands free to tend to your children.
If anyone gets a streaming nose also a factor of low humidity , wet the insides of their nostrils with a finger dipped in water - this often works like magic.
Flying can also prompt air expansion in the middle ear and sinuses, which can be painful for babies and infants because of their smaller ear passages.
To prevent discomfort, massage your child's ears from behind and give the earlobes a few gentle tugs from time to time. Toddlers also find it helpful to suck on something or have a drink during take-off and landing. Rail and bus travel 29 When booking tickets, make a point of asking for deals for families and young people.
In many instances, a family travelcard reduces the cost of ordinary tickets by so much that it's worth buying one even for a single trip. Such deals are usually restricted to travel outside rush hours.
To buy a railcard, you usually need to show identification for one or both parents, and have photographs with you. This might sound elitist, but sharing a packed carriage can be overwhelming when you're with small children. If you're on a train, establish limits in terms of how far older children can stray and how long they can be away for, emphasising that they always need to come back to you when the train slows down to stop.
Driving 32 Regardless of the regulations in your destination, always use children's car seats whenever driving with your kids.
If you're going to use the seat in several different cars - taxis, say - go for a universal model which works with all kinds of seatbelts. For general guidelines and information on some of the common errors when fitting child's car and booster seats, go to childcarseats. They are easy to get hold of in car accessory shops or online. And if you don't want their fun to bother the driver, bring headphones as well.
Staying healthy 35 If you're heading for the heat, choose clothes made from natural fibres - sweat irritates delicate skins and can lead to prickly heat or sweat rash.
Expect to change your baby up to three times a day - particularly if they're not used to the heat and will sweat a lot.
Children will need two sets of clothes per day, and sunhats with wide brims and neck flaps are worthwhile when playing outdoors. Equally, don't overlook the fact that children's eyes are more vulnerable to glare than yours; get them sunglasses, or goggles with elasticated straps, which stay on better. If you plan to use bottled water to make up formula feeds, aim to get the lowest mineral content you can.
Make sure the children don't drink from taps, including when brushing teeth. Keeping a bottle of drinking water by the sink is a helpful reminder. Check that bottles and cans are unopened before handing these to the children and use straws or clean the can or bottle before they drink , and get them to avoid ice and salads. For skin allergies, try applying over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream; natural alternatives include drinking honey and apple cider mixed with warm water, a spoonful of honey or, particularly for hayfever, nettle tea.
If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you should drink more whenever it's hot so that you produce slightly diluted milk; but if temperatures are particularly high and you don't have enough milk, give them some water to drink, too. Also check all your children's urine from time to time; if it's darker than usual, cloudy or strong-smelling, insist that they drink more.
Give babies water to drink, use a light oil to massage their tummies, and bring their knees up to their chests a few times. You can also gently rub a button of Vaseline over their anus.
Give older children water and a few teaspoons of a light vegetable oil to drink, as well as trying the Vaseline and abdominal massage. The easiest way to protect babies from insect bites apart from mosquito nets , is to put them in a light cotton fabric sleeping bag, with a long-sleeved top, and slather a healthy dose of insect repellent on the fabric.
Being there 43 Most tourist accommodation isn't particularly child-friendly, so once you've checked in you'll probably need to make some adaptations yourself. Start off by checking locks on doors and windows to make sure the room is secure. Check the sturdiness of the fittings - wobbly balconies and railings are unsafe and mean you should change your accommodation straight away.
Point out things such as loose towel-rails or curtain rails to the staff and either agree that you can't be responsible should they fall down, or ask for them to be fixed or removed.
Use insulating tape to cover exposed wires or sockets or block them off with furniture that's too heavy for your children to move. It's also a good idea to check the temperature of the hot water; it's often scalding, so you may need to warn your children. If you've more than one child, give each a turn to make choices from the activities list. Plan your route around the capacity of your youngest child and your ability to carry them.
Try to choose a route where the scenery will change frequently.
This will be listed in the product's specifications. So here's our guide to what you'll need to keep your baby comfortable and safe while he sleeps.
Good choices for walks or rides include following a river or canal towpath; there are no hills to negotiate, and there's the possible bonus of water to play in and birds to feed.
It's also a good idea to combine walks or rides with an activity such as swimming or taking a short train ride.
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