Holidays abroad with baby

Written by jillian o'keeffe Google
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Hedonistic babies can have the time of their (young) life on holiday

Holidays abroad with baby
Save up for a holiday? Moi? (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

"New born babies... are required to hold their own passport if they are to travel abroad" - Home Office Identity and Passport Service

— Home Office Identity and Passport Service

Babies are quite small, taking up the space of the average carry-on suitcase, albeit not as geometrically shaped. Technically they can go on holidays with merely a blanket to cover their modesty and some nourishing milk neatly packaged, either from their mum or in bottles, but in practical reality, a baby requires some hefty luggage and preparation when travelling on holiday.

Baby legalese

Holidays abroad with baby
Baby jail awaits for infants without passports (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

All babies have to have legal experts on their side, in the form of mum and dad, who have to ensure that their chubby-cheeked innocent little baba doesn't start life off on the wrong side of the law, all before they get to go on their first holiday ever.

Even babies can break the law of the land if they try and cross international borders without a passport, so when planning to go on holidays, parents should remember to get baby's first passport from the Home Office Identity and Passport Service. A professional person, such as a GP, who can differentiate your gorgeous baby from imposter babies has to countersign the photo first though.

Health insurance is another necessary evil for the travelling baby, although a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can go some way toward reducing the cost of doctor's visits when travelling in the European Union. As infants are still developing their immune system, another important facet of health to keep on top of is their vaccinations against infectious diseases. Every country has its particular set of dangerous bugs for a baby, and if your baby is going to be a particularly well-travelled character, then more exotic vaccinations on top of his basic sets may be warranted. A GP can tell you which diseases can be vaccinated against for which destination, and where it is unsafe to holiday with a baby. Once approved for travel, the baby may then have to negotiate the gauntlet of airport bureaucracy, where he may be subject to height and weight restrictions for cots or seats, so ringing up the airline before booking tickets may save a lot of hassle in the departure lounge.

The fashionable travelling baby

Holidays abroad with baby
Some babies travel around and snooze in style in a pram ( Images)

Little bodies are sensitive to climate, so planning a baby's wardrobe is essential before heading off for a break. Any which way you dress them, small babies are always cute as a button, so designer threads are not strictly necessary. Humorous slogan t-shirts, though, are entertaining for all the family.

Summer destinations for the family such as the Greek islands or the Balearics mean that the pale new skin of a baby needs to be protected from the sun's strong rays. Once babies are six months or older, they don't need to be kept out of the sun entirely, but the NHS advises to "encourage your child to play in the shade, for example under trees, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest." A nice floppy fisherman's hat, just like Grandpa's, is ideal to protect a silky-haired head from sunburn, as are long-sleeved t-shirts and loose trousers, and when any skin is exposed to the summer sun, such as with swimsuits, suncream with a factor of 50 is necessary to prevent sunburn, and ruining everyone else's holiday. On the other end of the climate spectrum, cold climates mean that mum and dad can wrap up the baby snugly in a onesie suit like a tiny Eskimo, with the added benefit of a padded suit helping to soften any little falls or bumps.

Happy baby wishlist

Holidays abroad with baby
Formal introductions are not required when it comes to babies (Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Grown-ups go on holiday to be free from worry, to see new things, and to relax. Babies don't know what worry is, and they relax into floppiness simply when sleeping, but they do love to experience new things.

Novelty and entertainment can make both baby and mummy happy, so creating some distractions for your baby can make long journeys go faster as well as smoother. The National Childbirth Trust suggests that when travelling on trains, parents "choose a window seat for older babies and children to look out of" and when on planes, "a baby carrier or sling can help if you need to walk your baby up and down, especially if you are travelling alone and can’t share the burden". Musical CDs in the car, or simply singing out loud to the baby can help pass the time, and new toys can pique his interest for long enough to get to the destination without tears. On arrival, the sights and sounds of a new country can be enough to surprise the child into thoughtful silence, and novelties such as sand, warm seawater to dip toes in and exotic foods help create the impression of a brand new playground to enjoy. Best of all, holidays are a chance for Mum and Dad to make friends with other parents, and for the travelling baby to make new baby friends.

The gourmet baby

Holidays abroad with baby
Pureed escargots? Well... okay... I trust you.... (Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)

Past the six month mark, the baby's food horizons have broadened, from milk to all the foods mum and dad might eat for dinner, albeit in a mushed up form. Holidaying, though, can potentially pose problems, if local foods are very different to what the baby's gotten used to.

Breastfeeding or giving the baby a bottle can help reassure and relax the baby while travelling, and also gives the baby some familiar nutrition on holiday. Formula brands may vary according to country, so it is probably handier to bring your own. Although baby food in jars can be useful to bring along, they take up space in suitcases and it may be helpful to ask package operators or British expats where baby food of a high standard can be found once you get to your destination. Baby-friendly fresh foods such as fruit and pasteurised yoghurts are also widely available in most countries. Adventurous babies can also be given adult food such as potato or carrots mushed up with no bits to potentially choke on, but foods such as nuts, shellfish and fish are among the most common allergy triggers in babies, so to avoid problems on holiday, these may be helpful to avoid introducing for the first time.

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