As we all finalize our plans to head out for the holidays, you might be stressing about more than just what to wear to Christmas dinner. Many of the tinsel-trimmed holiday activities tend to take place during baby’s nap time and when you throw a wrench in your trusty schedule, everyone can begin to melt down.
We went straight to the source and asked pediatrician and best-selling author Dr. Tanya Altmann for her expert tips on maintaining baby’s routine while traveling.
Write down your packing list. While you might be able to make do with re-wearing your favorite sweater and jeans, assume baby is going to need ample clothing to account for spills, accidents, and exploding diapers. Besides clothes, remember to think about diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers, blankets, snacks, toys, loveys, car seats— it’s a long list! Start as soon as possible, write items down and think about what you use each day, then you’ll ensure you have everything you need packed and ready to go.
Snacks and meals. Keeping baby’s feeding routine as usual can be extra challenging when you’re traveling during the holidays and attending lots of parties and family gatherings. If you don’t have the option to bring food with you, make sure you stop at a grocery store upon arrival (or order groceries to be delivered) and stock up on all of baby’s important go-to foods and snacks.
My foundation foods that can be mixed and matched at meals and snack times include: berries, eggs, prunes (important to keep everyone regular), yogurt (I like Stonyfield YoBaby because it’s the #1 pediatrician recommended yogurt for babies and has probiotics for baby’s gut health), avocados (easy to order when out!), chicken, fish, beans, lentils, green vegetables and whole grains (even dry whole grain, high fiber cereal works as a snack on the go!). If your baby is just starting solids, mash up any of these solid foods with a little bit of water until they get comfortable chewing. If you’re staying with a relative or friend, let them know ahead of time you’ll be bringing food for your baby and ask if they have a blender or anything else you might need. Proper nutrition is so important for a baby’s growth and development and you want to maintain it even when traveling.
Sleep, sleep, sleep. Stick to your baby’s bedtime routine! Like nutrition, sleep is essential to keep their little bodies strong and healthy, especially this time of year when you’re worried about illness. Go through your nighttime routine as though you were home. If this includes a favorite book, blanket, white noise machine or sleep sack, make sure you pack those, and keep bedtime as similar to home as possible. Even if baby seems energized by little cousins at a family party, deviating too much off schedule, may make for not such a fun next day if your little one (and you) don’t get enough sleep. And if you’re planning to be in a car during bedtime, go through the ritual of changing into pajamas and soothing baby into sleep before leaving.
Bring sanitizing wipes. Many parents have these on standby in their car, but make sure you throw them in your bag or carry-on. Your baby is going to be exposed to a lot of new places (and germs!) when traveling and you want to get rid of as many of those germs as possible. Wipe down surfaces your baby is playing on or eating off of. Also, frequently wipe down baby’s hands and your hands (make sure wipes are safe for skin). You don’t realize the amount of things you come into contact with and using a wipe is a good habit to get into. If you’re near a sink, frequent hand washing with soap and water is always the best idea. Again, for you and baby!
Get a jump on your holiday shopping with the year’s hottest toys or browse the Convertible Car Seats That Will Actually Grow with Your Child.
Opening Image: Travis Richardson for Mini Magazine