Having a baby or small children can make travel and holidays seem like a daunting prospect, but with some careful planning and preparations, family holidays can be fun and rewarding for everyone.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re holidaying abroad or staying with friends and family, a new and different environment may not be as child-friendly as your own home. Children are naturally curious and will want to discover and explore, and whilst we want children to have fun and enjoy their holiday, it’s important that simple steps are taken to keep them safe.
Ensure you have up to date information about your resort. You can check the Foreign Office’s travel advice here.
There is no set age for when your baby/child can travel on an aeroplane, but parents should check with the airline as ages may vary. Parents should also check with each individual airline the amount of baby food and milk allowed, and get guidance for seating and excess luggage requirements.
You should also check if the airline requires a car seat on board the plane and, if you’re hiring a car, you’ll also need to thing about the size and luggage capacity. It’s amazing how much extra luggage a small child needs!
If you’ve given birth by caesarean section, you may not be allowed to fly until after your six-week postnatal check-up and for your GP to give you the all clear.
Babies and young children are used to the UK climate, so a holiday destination which is hotter or colder can come as a shock. It’s important to be prepared for the weather in your destination. Check out websites such as BBC Weather to help you decide whether to pack hats and gloves or sunscreen and sunglasses.
If you’re going to be staying with relatives, ask them to think about dangers such as equipment that could be put away or made safe, and things like garden ponds that you’ll need to be aware of.
Prior to booking a holiday with a pool, think about whether there will be a lifeguard on duty or if there is a fence around a pool.
Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures and equipment such as nearest fire exits in buildings and lifesaving equipment for pools and open water.
When abroad, make sure you have emergency contact numbers to hand, as well as a travel first aid kit. For details of what to have in a first aid kit and some first aid advice, visit NHS Choices.
If you’re travelling abroad for your holiday, a little planning beforehand can make breastfeeding or bottle feeding less of a challenge. Here are some things to think about:
If you want to carry expressed milk, formula milk or sterilised water on the plane for the journey, you will be allowed to do so even if in some cases this exceeds the 100ml hand luggage allowance. Airport staff may open containers to screen any liquids at the security checkpoint.
Bottle feeding when abroad
If you’re bottle feeding on holiday, take supplies of formula milk and bottles to last the duration of your trip as well as sterilising equipment.
The quality of tap water in many holiday destinations isn’t suitable for drinking, so using bottled water is safer and more convenient. Remember to boil bottled water before making up the feed as it’s unlikely to be sterile, but don’t re-boil bottled water.
When it comes to your sterilising equipment, check to see whether your accommodation has a microwave before you depart so you’ll know whether you’ll be able to use a sterilising unit. If it doesn’t, sterilising tablets can be used to keep your bottles clean and safe throughout your trip.
For some destinations, travel vaccinations may be advised for everyone in the family, including young children.. Talk to your GP or practice nurse at least six-eight weeks prior to departure. The age of the child determines which vaccines they may be able to have. .
Avoid taking a baby to parts of the world where they might be exposed to diseases they are too young to be vaccinated against. For example, babies under the age of six months can’t receive a vaccination to protect against yellow fever because of the risk of them developing a brain infection (encephalitis), while babies under the age of two months can’t take anti-malaria tablets.
Find out about routine childhood vaccinations here. Make sure your child is up to date with theirs.
Although the vaccinations that your child is given through the childhood vaccination program are available free on the NHS, you may have to pay for some travel vaccinations. Your GP / practice nurse will be able to advise you.
For more detailed travel advice, including about disease prevention and vaccinations, visit the NHS Travel Advice website.
All children under the age of 16 years need to have their own passport. Passports can take up to three weeks to arrive, so make sure you apply in time. For more information about applying for passports, please visit the Government Passport Website.
Whether enjoying a ‘staycation’ or going further afield, holidays are great adventures for all the family and will enable your little one to learn about difficult cultures and ways of life from a very early age. Make sure you’ve also read about keeping safe in the sun too.