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Parenting

Travelling with a toddler – some tips and what the hell to pack  

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I’ve just flown solo with my toddler from Australia to the UK – some people called me crazy but we survived (albeit with a few minor hiccups) and here’s some tips I’ve learnt as well as what to pack.

WHAT TO PACK FOR THE FLIGHT

Get a decent nappy bag, ideally a rucksack one that frees up your hands.  Neatly pack so you know where everything is in a second.

Take a bottle for takeoff and landing as this massively calms a toddler down and gives you a while to contain them in their seatbelt while the sign is on.  The airline can also supply full fat milk for you or you can take your own on the flight – all liquids for babies are fine through security.

Keep their routine – if the flight is long haul, try and book it for around when your child would go to bed.  If they have a sleep bag, change them into PJs and put them in their bag.  On a night flight, the lights get dimmed soon after take off and with any luck your bub will go down for a few hours in the peace and quiet.  Keep your watch on local time to where you’ve flown from so you know when nap times and feed times should be.

Have an over supply of changing items; nappies (double what you think you’ll need!), scented bags and plenty of wipes – the change table (above the toilet) is pathetically small but if you position your child diagonally they can fit!

Take a change of clothes for bub but also for you.  My daughter was ill on our flight home and threw up all over us during take off so a change of clothes and a spare carrier bag were much needed!

Take medicines you think you’ll need; baby Panadol or Nurofen, Bonjella and a thermometer are my basics.

Pack some snacks that are easily portable and take a while to eat.  Put what you can into small containers and bring them out when your bub needs a new distraction.  Popcorn, corn chips, rusks, blueberries, fruit slices and custard sachets are few tried and tested suggestions.

Lastly take small entertainment items that are light and easy to carry.  My daughter loves stickers and colouring so a small colouring book with a packet of crayons/pencils as well as a sticker book kept her entertained for a while.  Have a look prior to your trip whilst you’re in cafes to see if they sell kid’s entertainment packs – these are cheap and ideal for a flight so take a few with you.  If you have an iPad, download some favourite shows so they can play offline – Peppa Pig and Duggee were lifesavers!  Also take a couple of lightweight books to read – these will be good for landing, again when they have to sit still on your lap.

WHAT TO PACK FOR THE TRIP

Check a long-term weather report before you go and pack accordingly.  Don’t pack too much as you can always wash things where you are – even it’s in the bath or sink!  I always take enough nappies with me for a few days and a large pack of wipes – you can then get more when you get settled.

Pack familiar toiletries like bath soap and their toothpaste that will make your child feel at home.  Also if you’re away for a while and doing washing, bring some detergent with you so your clothes smell familiar.

Check if where you are staying provide a travel cot, many places do – even on air bnb as I discovered recently!

Invest (or borrow) in a lightweight stroller – this will probably be the most important thing you’ll need whilst travelling.  You can take your stroller right up to the gate and hand it in just before you board.

Lastly, I bought my daughter her own backpack with a piece that I could hold on to. This way, she could walk with me and I could keep her close.

OTHER TIPS

Try and keep a routine in place (feed times and sleep times as normal).

Distract, distract, distract! Rotate snacks and entertainment goodies regularly.  If they get too wriggly, take them for walks at the back of the plane.

Lastly, try and tire them out before the flight – whether it’s taking them to the park for a run around or letting them explore the airport prior to your flight – they may be more willing to sit and chill during the flight….well fingers crossed anyway!

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Originally from London, Naomi recently moved to Melbourne to start family life with her husband and baby daughter, Ava. She enjoys good food, socialising, reading and her weekly fix of Pilates. Her motto in life is 'there's a first time for everything - try all the new experiences you can.'