by Stephen Mattson,
For parents with newborn children, planning a summer vacation may seem like a daunting and foolish task, but by following a few simple guidelines the trip can be relaxing and stress-free.
1. Make the decision to travel
Don’t be afraid to continue living your life. Travel! Many first-time parents assume that having a newborn puts an end to their adventure and social activity. Although parenting is a tough task that demands time, energy, patience, and devotion, infants are usually easy to manage (once you get used to it). Take advantage of their docile nature before they grow up and reach the “terrible two” stage (and beyond).
2. Use the internet
Websites offer tips, techniques, and testimonials for parents wanting to travel. After browsing through sites like mayoclinic.com and babycenter.com, parents can answer any baby-related questions they may have.
3. Make a list
Babies require numerous necessities that are easy to forget. Before traveling, determine what you need in order to properly care for your child during the vacation. Check off the items before you leave. If possible, cut down on unnecessary space by deciding which items can be purchased during the trip.
4. Utilize baby-friendly resources
Hotels, airlines, and resorts now offer a variety of amenities related to infants. Many hotels offer cribs, blankets, toys, and refrigerators free of charge. Airlines have strollers, diapers, and food available upon request. Resorts now provide parent-friendly tours and destinations. The travel industry is desperately trying to attract traveling parents. Don’t be afraid to ask what accommodations and resources are available for you and your child.
5. Determine transportation
There are some important factors to consider when choosing a mode of transportation. Doctors usually don’t recommend air travel within the first six weeks of birth. Newborns have fragile immune systems, and placing them in close proximity to large amounts of people for extended periods of time is always risky. After their first two months, flying is relatively safe, but changes in air pressure can produce “ear-popping” and pain to the infant that can cause them to cry and fidget. Although not serious, these complications could be embarrassing and uncomfortable when surrounded by irritated individuals seated nearby.
Time also plays an important role when deciding whether to travel by vehicle, train, bus, or plane. Occupying a child’s attention is a task that requires large amounts of work and energy. For many parents, the quicker the journey the better, but some like the freedom of mobility that vehicles offer – you can stop, eat, and rest whenever you feel like it.
Buses are usually too crowded and uncomfortable for carrying a newborn. Trains are spacious, but the costs are similar to flying while the speeds are drastically slower. Overall, either driving or flying is your best option. When flying, remember to bring a pacifier and other quiet distractions to keep your baby calm during the flight.
6. Communicate with a pediatrician
Traveling with newborns is relatively safe and most doctors will confidently give their approval for bringing them along. But for children with special needs, sicknesses, or allergies, always check with a medical expert before departing. Having the advice of a doctor will not only leave you better prepared for potential complications, but it will also ease the nerves. Write down the doctor’s number in case of emergency, and research what medical facilities are within your travel route.
7. Remember time-zones
While an adult body can easily adapt to different time-zone changes, infants are still eating, sleeping, and acting according to their normal routine. Their internal clock will not change. Set a watch according to the time back home, and feed and nap the baby as if still on that schedule.
8. Be flexible
Vacationing with a baby requires you to act according to their needs. They may cry or desire your attention at an inopportune time. Don’t plan tours or activities that are highly regimented. Instead, research what options are child-friendly. Many adult attractions and restaurants now cater to parents with infants, and these locations are great for parents wanting to enjoy themselves without worrying about distracting others because of their child’s behavior.
9. Enjoy your child
Instead of thinking of your newborn as a burden, realize that they are a blessing. Use the vacation to connect with other parents and individuals you meet. Many traveling moms and dads are quickly surprised by how friendly people are to their child. Babies are universally loved and admired, and you’ll be pleasantly amazed by how patient and loving people can be when they realize you’re traveling with an infant.
10. Document the trip
Before you realize it, your newborn will have graduated from high school and moved out of the house. Taking photographs and video footage captures the memories and experiences that are shared together. You may not appreciate the value of these moments while they happen, but purposefully documenting your trip will provide happiness to both you and your child upon future reflection.
Having a newborn doesn’t restrict you from experiencing an unforgettable summer vacation. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to travel with your child, and treasure the many lasting memories that will occur because of it.