When I booked my holidays I had visions of a laughing baby and daddy in the pool, while mammy sipped on a cocktail at the side of the pool reading her book. Family dinners where the baby would sleep peacefully in his buggy, while we chowed down on the local delicacies. Nothing could honestly have prepared me for what it is really like going on holidays with a baby!
While away I had a number of messages from mammies asking me to give my insight into traveling with a baby. I am by no means an expert in the area, but if my tips of tricks can help even one person, then my job here is done. I will add here, that Corrina Stone from Cherry Sue Doin the Do, is a wonderful source of all things travel with children. Especially travelling with small babies who are still on bottles or when weaning your baby. You can find all of Corrina’s posts here. They were a god send before I travelled.
This was the part I was probably dreading the most but it actually turned out to be one of the easier things, as I found Dublin airport to be very family friendly.
First off I would suggest giving yourself plenty of time. We had a 7:30am flight, so to give ourselves time for anything unplanned we arrived at 5:15AM. We were travelling peak summer holidays but to be fair Dublin airport were very organised and there were no major issues.
When going through security, I put all the food pouches, empty bottles and the formula carton into a large ziplock bag. the Ikea ziplock bags are fantastic. I didn’t worry about keeping the baby’s things under 100mls and the security guard just took the ziplock bag off and tested everything in the it. This took about 5 minutes but I didn’t mind. As far as I know you can bring expressed breast milk or water with the formula in the separate tub too. Security just take any of the babies liquids off for testing.
As we were going on a 4 hour flight, we fed the baby in the airport, as I didn’t fancy trying to feed him an Ella’s Pouch on the plane. I brought wheetabix in a box with me and just got milk to make it up.
As the baby didn’t have his own seat on the plane, we didn’t have a bag allocation for him. I did however book in a 25kg bag. There was no way I was going to stress trying to fit everything for three people into two onboard bags. I will say, booking a bag in is expensive but it is worth it. We paid €110 for our bag. I put mine and the babies clothes into this bag. Along with a lot of our nappies. I made sure to spread the babies stuff between the checked in bag and the onboard bag. God forbid the checked bag went missing and I didn’t have stuff for the baby!
Along with the checked bag, we had two on board bags, a large baby bag and a back pack. The baby bag and back pack were filled with formula, nappies, food and toys. I put all the toys in one ziplock bag and his food in another. Having everything in their own ziplock just made it easier to find things and I didn’t need to go rooting. Our baby bag is from Bow and rattle. We have the heather bag and I adore it. It has so much room. Loads of compartments and is very sturdy while at the same time it looks fab. You can find them here.
While we didn’t bring any baby accessories, you are allowed bring a car seat and travel cot if needed. These can be checked in free of charge too. Each airline can vary but for the most part you can have a car seat, travel cot and buggy.
The first thing I will say about travelling with a baby on the plane is, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. No matter if you’re child screams from take off to landing, or if they sleep like a baby, do not give one second of thought to what people are thinking. I went in with that attitude and I honestly think it made me a lot more relaxed and that 100% helped keep Conor calm.
As Conor is under 2, he didn’t have his own seat. He instead was to sit on one of our laps. To keep him occupied I had the baby bag and back pack full of bits and pieces. First off in the baby bag I had a zip lock full of snacks. Whatever type of snack you think will keep your child quiet for the flight, then go with it. While I tried to have some healthy snacks, I brought treats too as I knew they would keep him quiet longer. It isn’t like he eats them everyday !
I had a number of his small favourite toys but I also brought a few new ones. The new ones kept him entertained a little longer, as he wasn’t bored of them already from the playroom. We also had an iPad. I am normally not a fan of iPads but sometimes it’s needed!
I brought Conors Grobag, baby pillow and teddy onto the plane and put these on him before take off. I find that these are great sleep ques and when he did finally fall asleep, I had the pillow on my lap and it meant he could lie out flat.
I was also advised to try and get them to sup on his bottle during landing and take off. This didn’t exactly go to plan but thankfully we didn’t seem to have much issues with his ears.
What to pack
What goes in your suitcase will depend on the age of your child, but I would be fairly confident in saying that what we packed would work for babies from six months on, with a little adjustment for smaller babies. We were also going to the sun for two weeks, so again this dictated a lot of what we brought.
I did a lot of research around what food and formulas were available in Lanzarote. While I can’t say what formula brands you can and can’t get ( it is illegal to promote formula brands in Ireland) , I did bring two tins of my own formula with us and I am glad I did as the choice was very limited. If you want to know what brands where available you can send me a message on Facebook here.
While Conor is on more substantial dinners now, he is very picky. We packed a number of Ellas pouches to get us through the first few days but I wish I brought more. There were a number of reasons for this.
Firstly our apartment lacked a high chair. Normally we can place food on Conor’s high chair tray at home and he will pick away but the lack of high chair meant this couldn’t happen. Secondly most high chairs in the restaurants came without a try which left us with the same problem while out.
The children’s menus were also extremely limited. The only thing suitable for a baby was either a baby bowl or spaghetti Bolognese. I also found while there were jars of food available for much younger babies, there really wasn’t much for children 8+ months. I also found the jars to be very overly processed. More so than any pouch or jar I’ve given him before. While pouches aren’t ideal, it’s only for a short time and they can get back to home cooked when they come home from holidays.
If you’re still sterilizing bottles, this post from Stone Travel is an absolute god send. It tells you everything you need to know about sterilising when away. Corrina is a guru in travelling with children!
When it comes to buying a travel buggy, what you get really depends on your budget. You can go into somewhere like Smyths and buy something for €20 to just push them about in, but personally I wanted something that was a little more sturdy and comfortable.
I did quite a bit of research around strollers / travel buggies and I went to a number of shops to try them out. I brought Conor with me and put him in the buggy to see how easy it was to get him in and how. How it felt pushing him. How difficult it might be getting him into a reclining position and of course getting the buggy up and down. In the end, I bought the Mamas and Papas Armadillo and I honestly can’t sing high enough praise for it.
This is a buggy that can be used from birth as it goes into a full recline position. Personally I wouldn’t use this until the baby was a little more sturdy but at least the option is there.
I found this buggy perfect for travelling, as it folded up quickly and with littler no effort. It was quite compact. The hood came down quite far for a travel buggy that it blocked out enough light for him to sleep. The part where they sit into had plenty of room and it had an extendable section for their legs to stretch out. The basket on the bottom was also huge!
I would suggest buying buggy liners no matter what buggy you bring on holidays . Suncream gets everywhere and is a pain to get washed out.
We bought our Armadillo in Mamas and Papas for €220 . It has gone back up to €300 but keep an eye out as they always have offers on. You can find it here.
Bits and Pieces
There are a number of things I packed that I am glad of and some I forgot that I really could have done with.
Blanket – Something lightweight to fire over them when they are in the buggy in the evening. I found that a blanket helped put Conor to sleep.
Portable high chair – Not packing this is probably my biggest regret. If you’re baby is in the high chair stage, try and get your hands on one of the fabric portable high chairs. It just means no matter where you are, you will always have a high chair option. Most restaurants have one but your accommodation might not. A lack of high chair can lead to stressful feeding times.
Suncream – Don’t take up space in your bag buying suncream. There was a massive selection in Lanzarote . The La Roche Posay was even cheaper than back home.
Swim safety – This all depends on the age and mobility of your baby. Conor is crawling very fast but we wouldn’t let him anywhere near the pool area without being in one of our arms. In the pool we used the swim trainer ring as he was really striped in, couldn’t slip out or roll over. Although saying that we were with him at all times because you never know what can happen.
Toys – while toys are bulky try and bring a few of their favourite things along with a few new toys. Spread them out between your on board bag and checked luggage.
Not surprisingly holidaying with a baby was a lot different to any holiday I have ever been on. It is challenging at times and it can test your patience. However, I found once I stopped worrying about his routine, fresh cooked food and what other people thought it was a little easier. Of course each holiday is different,as it all depends on the child but personally, challenging times aside we had a fantastic time.