Things to consider before booking a holiday:
- Length of journey
- How comfortable is the mode of transport?
- What temperatures can you expect during the holiday?
- Are there special facilities for babies and young children?
- Is it the right type of holiday for your baby?
- Can you easily buy your baby’s usual food and milk?
- Is there a suitable water supply?
- Can you easily get medical advice? Is there a language barrier?
- Will your baby need any immunisations before leaving? Your healthcare professional will be able to advise you about this
- Are there likely to be mosquitoes? Ask your healthcare professional for advice about protection from malaria and buying a mosquito net and insect repellent
- Check your travel insurance covers everyone in your family, the country you are visiting and the type of activities you might be taking part in
- Make sure your passports are up-to-date and that your baby has a passport of their own
- If you have any health concerns or queries about taking your baby on holiday, contact your healthcare professional
Travelling by car
- Always buy a new car seat for your baby, not a second-hand one, as it may have been in a crash
- Make sure it conforms to the latest European Safety Standard – R44/04
- Check it can be fitted to your car – ask a trained shop assistant or your local car dealership
- Follow the car seat and car manufacturer’s instructions carefully
- Don’t place a rear-facing car seat in the front if there is an active passenger airbag
- Regularly check that your car seat is still suitable for your baby’s weight and size
- If you are hiring a car when abroad, ensure that you can hire the right car seat for your baby. To be certain, take your own
Helping to stop your baby getting restless
- Many babies fall asleep in the car, so you can make this more likely by starting your journey at their normal nap time or soon after they’re fed
- Keep them occupied with soft toys or nursery rhyme music
- If they get upset, don’t try to console them whilst driving. Pull over once it’s safe to do so
- Make sure your baby is securely strapped in
- Never leave them alone
- Keep car doors locked, even when you are in the car or filling up
- Try to avoid travelling late at night
- Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to arrive
- Take your mobile phone with you and make sure it’s fully charged
- If you park at the side of the road, try to make sure your baby is sitting on the side next to the kerb
- For extra peace of mind, it may be worth joining one of the national breakdown companies. They’ll prioritise your call if you have a baby with you
Making travelling comfortable
- Keep your baby at a comfortable temperature. Use layers of clothing, blankets and the car’s heating or air conditioning
- Be organised. Keep nappies, wipes and changing equipment handy, rather than at the bottom of a suitcase
- Stop for regular breaks. This will give you the chance to relax and feed and change your baby
Beware of the sun
- When travelling on a sunny day, a car window blind will give them extra protection from the sun
- Try to park in the shade. If you have to leave your car in direct sunlight, cover the car seat with a towel to keep it cool and prevent any metal fittings from becoming too hot
Trains, boats and buses
- Protect your baby from any sudden movements by making sure they are securely fastened into their pushchair with the brakes on
- If you have bags or suitcases, you might find it easier to carry your baby in a papoose or sling
- Before you set off, check there are baby facilities
- Many travel companies have special baby facilities. For example, ferry companies are usually happy to provide suitable cots or seats for babies and young children
- Check the latest rules for what you can carry in your hand luggage, including food and drink for your baby
- If possible, fly direct and travel at off-peak times
- Check if your airline offers any special facilities for babies
- Ask for a bulkhead seat or a seat with extra legroom
- Book a bassinette or pay for an extra seat (child fare) to make sure you have enough space
- Pack more baby supplies in your hand luggage than you think you’ll need
- Change your baby’s nappy immediately before you board the plane
- Dress them in layers
- Take a few favourite toys on board
- Breast or bottle-feed your baby during take-off and landing – the sucking action will help ease the pressure in their ears
Feeding on the move
- Try to plan any stops to fit with their normal feeding pattern
- If you’d prefer to breastfeed somewhere private, most service stations, restaurants and cafés have special baby facilities
- Liquid baby milks, which come in ready to use bottles, are very convenient if you’re bottle-feeding. The SMA Easy feed bottles are ideal for travelling as the liquid milk is supplied in a resealable bottle. All you need to do is attach the SMA pre-sterilised and ready to use teat or spout (sold separately), click the angle of the neck and you’re ready to feed.
- If you’re decanting liquid milk take sterilised bottles or beakers to decant into.
- Take sterilised bottles and a flask of boiling water so you can make up feed when your baby needs it
- Buy a flask solely for holding freshly boiled water
- Before filling the flask, wash it thoroughly and rinse with boiling water
- Boiling water is obviously a scalding hazard, so be careful with toddlers around
- Always check the milk’s at the right temperature before giving it to your baby
- Always dispose of unfinished feeds
- Dispose of any boiled water that has cooled to below 70°C
- If you are travelling on a hot day or are on a long journey, keep a bottle of freshly boiled, cooled water in case your baby gets thirsty
- Breastfed babies do not need extra drinks until they start weaning. However, they may want to feed more than usual if the weather’s hot
- Jars of baby food are convenient. However, with a little preparation, homemade food can easily be divided into small portions and stored in plastic containers
- It’s possible to feed straight from the jar. But make sure you throw away any leftovers, as an open jar has a higher risk of contamination
- Make sure lids are secure
- Keep food refrigerated as much as possible. Once you take food out of the fridge, it should be eaten within two hours (4 hours if kept in a cool bag)
Getting the temperature right
- If the food was frozen, remember to check it’s thoroughly defrosted
- Empty the food into a plastic bowl
- Warm the bottom of the bowl in a bowl of hot water and stir the food until it’s lukewarm throughout
- Many restaurants, cafés, service stations etc. will heat your baby’s food for you. However, some may be unable to heat home-cooked food because of hygiene rules
- Always test the temperature carefully before feeding it to your baby
- Never heat your baby’s food in the microwave as this may create ‘hot spots’ which could scald them
Equipment for feeding solids
- Clean plastic feeding bowls with lids
- Clean plastic spoons and forks (in a container)
- A flask of hot water (to heat food)
- Wet wipes/damp flannel (to wash your baby’s hands and face)
- A small supply of washing up liquid
Young children are especially vulnerable to bacteria that cause food poisoning, so it is very important to store and prepare food safely.
Always wash your hands and ensure utensils are clean before preparing or serving food.
- From about 7 months, babies start experimenting with finger foods, like pieces of fresh fruit and bread. You can store favourite finger foods in a plastic sandwich box for meals or snacks
- From about 9-12 months, your baby will be starting to eat a wide range of foods, which should make eating on the move even easier
Breastfeeding on holiday
If you are breastfeeding, carry on as normal. But also:
- Pay extra attention to food hygiene
- Make sure all fruit and vegetables you eat have been properly washed/peeled
- If you have any doubts about the quality of the local drinking water, only drink bottled water and avoid ice cream and ice in drinks
- Drink plenty of fluids
Bottle-feeding on holiday
- Contact the manufacturer of your usual baby milk well in advance to check if the brand is available at your destination. To check the availability of SMA infant milks, call the SMA Careline freephone on 0800 0 81 81 80 (UK) or 1800 931 832 (ROI).
- If your usual brand is not going to be available, it’s a good idea to pack adequate supplies in your suitcase. Use unopened, sealed tins or ready to use Easy feed bottles (don't forget the separate SMA pre-sterilised and ready to use teats or spouts). Make sure bottles are well packed to prevent damage
- If your baby has a special kind of infant milk, remember to order supplies well in advance. This is especially true if a prescription is required
Sterilising feeding equipment
Until your baby is six months old, you’ll need to sterilise all feeding equipment. You can take your steriliser on holiday (if electrical check manufacturer’s instructions for suitability and take a plug adaptor) with you or invest in a portable sterilising system.
Alternatively just take liquid milks which come in ready to use bottles. The SMA Easy feed bottles are ideal for travelling as the liquid milk is supplied in a resealable bottle. All you need to do is attach the SMA pre-sterilised and ready to use teat or spout (sold separately), click the angle of the neck and you’re ready to feed.
Taking special precautions when abroad
- If you’re not sure about the quality of the local water supply, ready-to-use milks are a good alternative to powdered baby milk
- It’s also possible to use bottled water to make up your baby’s feeds but only use bottled waters suitable for infant feeding (the sodium level shown on the label must be below 200 mg/l)
- Bottled water must be boiled and cooled before use
If your baby is eating solids, it’s a good idea to pack supplies of their favourite jars of baby foods, just in case it’s not available where you are.
Taking care in the sun
Babies and children have very delicate skin, which can burn easily in the sun.
The NHS advise keeping your baby out of the sun as much as possible, especially when it’s at its strongest (11am-3pm).
If you are out and about on a sunny day:
- Attach a parasol or sunshade to the pushchair to keep your baby out of direct sunlight
- Use a high SPF sunscreen (50+)
- Apply sunscreen all over – even areas which will be covered by clothing, as the sun’s rays can penetrate through light fabrics
- Reapply sunscreen regularly
- Babies and children over 6 months should wear a t-shirt or sun suit and a wide-brimmed hat in the sun
- Always cover your baby’s head with a light cap or bonnet
- On the beach, a lightweight sun tent is useful to shield your baby
- Remember that the effect of the sun is even greater if reflected off water or snow
- Wind can also make your baby’s delicate skin sore, so keep them sheltered
Holiday first aid kit
Always check that any medicines are suitable for your baby’s age and follow the instructions carefully.
Basic items for a first aid kit:
- Paracetamol and ibuprofen suspensions (sachets are useful)
- Antiseptic wipes
- Rehydration sachets
- Washproof plasters
- Instant ice pack
- Baby scissors
- Calamine lotion
- Cotton wool
- Roll of micropore tape
- Antiseptic cream
- Thermometer for your baby
If you’re using disposable nappies, contact the manufacturer to check they are easily available where you’re going. If not, it’s worth considering taking a supply with you.
Baby’s travel checklist
A good rule of thumb is to always pack more than you think you’ll need.
- Spare clothes
- Disposable bibs
- Travel wash (for sensitive skin)
- Nappies and disposal bags
- First aid kit
- Empty, sterilised bottles and sterilised teats/feeding beaker
- Sterilising equipment (if your baby is 6 months or younger)
- Plastic bowls and cutlery (if your baby is weaning)
- High SPF sunscreen (50+)
- Baby’s usual milk –ready to use bottles, tins of powder (if bottle-feeding).
- Baby rug
- Cool bag for food and bottles