When you have your first baby, it can be overwhelming. The challenge of doing the same things you did only a few months ago but with a baby in tow can seem insurmountable. It is important that you don’t become a hermit and that you get out as much as possible. It’s beneficial for both you and baby, who will appreciate the fresh air and stimulation. For those with older children too, it’s imperative to get out and about to stop everyone going stir crazy in those first few weeks. If leaving the house to go somewhere feels like a military operation, please don’t despair – follow these tips for travelling with children.
Where to go – Start off small. A trip for an hour or so to your local free museum is a good idea. Mainly because it’s local, and free, so it’s not a disaster if you have to cut the trip short. Some have cafes so you can meet a friend, and baby changing facilities (check with them before you go). Somewhere with car parking nearby or is easily accessible by bus is good. A park is good for a fine day, and an indoor shopping mall is perfect for wet weather – you don’t have to spend anything, but the practice is great.
Equipment – You will need nappies and wipes. Ditch the trendy baby changing bag and use a multi-pocketed backpack instead. Take lots of carrier bags (just in case) and a change of clothes for the baby, and for yourself – I have spent way too much time searching out shops for new clothes to save me going back home only to buy yet more things I already have. You can store things in the car if need be. Make sure you keep the bag topped up with essentials, and double check before you leave.
You will also need a pram or a sling for the baby. Consider buying a cheap bicycle lock just in case you need to leave the pram in a pram park. If you are going somewhere outdoors, you will also need a rain cover (and a rain-proof coat for you), or sunhat and sun-cream, depending on the weather.
Eating – take a packed-lunch. At least take food you can fall back on if you can’t find a suitable café. We always take carton drinks, crisps and fruit with us as it doesn’t matter if we decide to eat at a café instead and have to take the food back home with us again. If you are using formula milk then you’ll need to take it with you. Put the powder in a separate container, put the boiled water in the sterilised bottles, and make it up when you need it. Most places have a microwave or bottle warmer available to use, and if they don’t – ask! If you’re breastfeeding, then you’ll just need to find somewhere suitable to sit. Again, if you’re struggling – ask!
Schedule – Pick a quiet time to go. There’s nothing worse than trying to get somewhere when it’s busy, especially if you need to park, or get your buggy round places. If you can travel during baby’s naptime, then they won’t get too much out of routine.
Practise – the more you do it, the easier it gets. As you get better at getting out and about you can get more adventurous and try new places. You’ll learn what type of places suit you and what you need to take each time. You’ll be a pro in no time at all.
Joanne is mother of four girls aged from 2 to 8 years, and is the founder of Kids Days Out Reviews, a blog with great suggestions for family days out around the U.K. www.kidsdaysoutreviews.blogspot.co.uk