What’s great about traveling with really young kiddos? You’re not tied to a school schedule yet so you’re free to move about the cabin in the off season, which means cheaper flights and hotels and less wait times at restaurants and kid-friendly destinations.
September and October and the winter after the holidays are prime getaway times for families!
To help you enjoy the journey, Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician, creator of the Snoo and best-selling author of the Happiest Baby on the Block, offers these family trip tips for making traveling with young children safer and more fun.
Book Your Trip
Literally, “make a book about it,” Dr. Karp says. Include photos of the plane, pictures of the new city and descriptions of what you’ll do during your time away to read every day in the week leading up to your departure. Your child will be prepared for what’s ahead…and excited!
Take advantage of the airline’s policy allowing families with small children to board first. That way, you can settle your little one in without others hastily trying to get by you to their seats. Once you’re seated, talk to your child about the plane and the pilot and what to expect during the flight.
Busy, Busy, Busy
“Whether you’re driving or flying, the golden rule is the same: Keep them busy,” Dr. Karp says.Bring a coloring book with jumbo crayons. Toss your tot’s favorite books into your bag and read them when you sense a meltdown coming. And even if you usually don’t allow your tot to watch TV, consider making a concession during the trip by bringing an iPad along. You can load it up with educational programming that will keep his/her interest.
BabyProductsMom also recommends products like this:
Take S-t-r-e-t-c-h Breaks
If you’re driving, schedule extra time for frequent stops. Your tot will definitely request potty breaks and get to stretch her legs which will help stave off breakdowns. If you’re flying, take a walk together up and down the aisle when the seatbelt sign is off.
“These can be stickers or small tokens or a new library book–or a special food…just not too much sugar,” Dr. Karp says. Take the treats out when your tot is wowing you with their great behavior. When you give them the treat, you’ll reinforce their good behavior… and keep them distracted for awhile longer!
“It’s safe to say your child will lose it at some point during the trip… the trick is to be prepared!” Dr. Karp says. “Use your besttoddler-ese and fast food rule to acknowledge your tot’s feelings… then try distraction, explanation or even bribery.” Even if you wouldn’t usually give your child a cookie in the middle of the day after a meltdown, it’s okay to be lenient during a trip. It’s a special occasion and you’re just trying to get everyone there in one piece!
Stick to Your Home Time Zone
“If you’re going on a short, close trip–under five days and fewer than three time zones, try to stick to your home time zone and keep up with your regular day schedule and bedtime routines,” Dr. Karp says. You don’t want to adjust to the new time zone just to have to readjust when you get back home.
Keep to the Sleep Schedule
“Predictability helps your child relax,” Dr. Karp says. Use white noise for naps and nighttime and bring along any favorite stuffed animals or loveys to keep your tot calm and assured.
Pack a First Aid and Childproofing Kit
“Bring a little kit to childproof the room,” Dr. Karp says. The kit should include:
- Outlet covers for electric outlets; BabyProductsMom recommends these).
- Wide paper bandage tape to tape down electric cords and to tape cotton balls on sharp table corners or to secure low drawers.
- Pack a small first aid kit too. Add ibuprofen and any special medicines your tot needs like an Epi-pen. “Make sure you have enough to last your entire trip,” Dr. Karp says.
Keep activities short and child-friendly
“It’s fine to spend one hour in a museum, but make sure to follow it with 30 minutes playing chase outside,” Dr. Karp says.
Don’t Get Away with It All
Lug less and enjoy the journey more. At your destination, consider renting baby gear, such as a fullsize crib, high chair, toy package for your child’s age and stage and stroller. These are just some of the most popular items BabyProductsMom rents to traveling parents (and grandparents) as a BabyQuip Quality Provider, serving Connecticut and New York City.
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