While a family reunion may not sound as exciting as a trip to a theme park or far away land it provides children with an understanding of their heritage. Family reunions are an opportunity to teach the kids about family. Who are our ancestors? Where were they born? Were they involved in the making of history? Who will be attending? How is everyone related? Where will they be traveling from? These are but a few of the questions that are likely to spark the interest of the children.
Of course if you have a new baby, even if I encourage you to talk to him about the upcoming trip, your concerns are others—if you must take an airplane to get there and are wondering how you are going to manage bringing over all the gadget your baby needs, there are a few solutions. First get your own pediatrician’s opinion, bring some help with you, get a nonstop flight, fly during an off-peak time, and be prepared for everything. Best to wait at least six weeks before you fly.
But what about all the gadgets you have been accustomed to?
If you can afford it I found this interesting Web site called Traveling Baby Company here’s their pitch and promise: “[TBC]offers you high quality baby products that are clean, safe and comfortable. Our network is dedicated to provide outstanding customer service and making your trip stress free. Experience the ease of traveling with children as trusted brand name items are delivered straight to your door. You will never have to pack extra luggage or carry bulky equipment again. The convenience is amazing!! Relax while you travel and put your mind at ease, we will do the rest.”
A client of mine swears by them. As a bi-coastal (LA- NYC) family they used this service to manage the back and forth in the first few months of their baby’s life. Eventually they bought enough stuff in their second home to live comfortably in both places. The site is called traveling baby co.
If you cannot afford it don’t worry you can still make it work. The most important item in your traveling luggage for a baby (or a toddler) is a car seat. All car rental companies rent car seats too, so it might behoove you to get rent a car so that you are independent and you have enough car seats for your kids. But you can also only rent a car seat, make sure whomever pick you up at the airport has it securely installed in their car, do not travel at any time with out one.
The most important items to pack for a new born are:
- A good sling
- A Snuggle Nest (Which is a small comfortable traveling bed 0 to 3 months)
- Enough swaddling blankets
- A white noise maker I love the Cloud Sleep Sheep because you can take the little noise machine out of the sheep and place it just about anywhere. Babies do love noise.
If you got used to breastfeed with a bopy you really don’t need one. Before you leave get a lactation consultant, postpartum doula, or lactation peer from La Leche League to teach you how to feed your baby just using your arms, and free your self from that gadget.
When you travel via airplane make sure you breastfeed your baby on take off and landing and if you have a toddler it is a good idea to encourage him to eat something (a small piece of his favorite fruit for example) during the same time, this will ease ear pressure and make her comfortable. Include a change of clothes for both mom and baby in your carry-on. It is better to be safe than sorry. (Don’t forget extra diapers!)
When you travel with your newborn try to reserve a bulk seat in the middle of the airplane. Many airlines do carry an infant crib you can hook up in front of you. Especially if mom is flying alone, the portable crib is a great place to safely place your baby while you eat, rest, or search for that one pacifier that got away.Ask the flight attendant for help if you are flying solo. They are usually happy to assist you or hold your baby if you need to use the restroom. Utilize a good baby carrier or sling. These keep baby close and safe and your hands free.
Schedule your air travel during the sleep hours of your baby, if you can. Also you might consider asking your homeopathic doctor for an emergency remedy kit, check out Dr. Feder’s Family Kit.
Newborns are much more vulnerable to germs than older children, since their immune systems are still developing. Maintaining exposure at a minimum is important. Avoid having every family member and friend breathe on or touch the newborn. Be adamant that only those with clean hands and no colds get close. The power to breastfeed conveniently and safely is best, and it will also help them since they’ll get your immune system to help fight anything that may come their way.
Make sure you pack different clothing from warm to cold. Temperature variations from an air-conditioned car to the hot sun at grandmother’s house. Or, it can similarly be from the heated car to a house that is a little chilly for the newborn. Be ready for either contingency.
With toddlers remember to bring distractions:
Bring toys that travel well and can be used quietly. For young kids books and coloring books, it is a good idea to get something he/she has never seen before but don’t forget a favorite doll or stuffed animal it will help your child cope with the stress of being in a new environment and new bed. For older children bring, activity books, and travel versions of their favorite games. Again sometimes a little trip to the .99 cents store can go a long way in getting something new your children can get excited about.
STAY AWAY FROM SUGAR SNACKS, you don’t want your kids to bounce off the walls. Remember many airlines these days do not provide meals, so pack some food for your children. here are some yummy ideas:
Ziploc filled with: carrots, cucumbers, grapes, apple slices, corn chips low in salt, multigrain cheerios, peanut butter and bananas sandwiches (cut in small bite size pieces), string cheese, one avocado (you can bring a spoon and give your toddler half, it also makes great fresh baby food and it is good for six months and up.
Don’t forget to bring either a sippy cup or a bottle (they must be empty for security reasons) but you can always ask the flight attendant to fill them up with water (no need to feed soda or juice to your kid, all that sugar can get him/her restless.)
Remember to breathe deeply (from your belly rather than your chest) if you start feeling tense. Traveling can be stressful not only for parents but for kids too. Make sure you discuss your travel well ahead of time, talk about rules at the airport, on the train, in the car and on the plane. When I traveled in the car with my kids we often played great games like the alphabet game where you need to find each letter of the alphabet on different signs on the road. In fact on our last trip from LA to San Francisco, we still played the same game and my son is twenty-six and my daughter is twenty-four, and you know, it made the time go so much faster and it made us laugh all the way there.
Once you arrive at destination make sure the each day contains at least one activity that everyone will enjoy, for example:
A tour of the city can end with a visit to the local zoo. A visit with adult relatives can include games for the kids or a trip to the local park.
If you have a baby make sure you spend time alone in a quiet room with him/her. over-stimulation can cause your baby to be fussier. For small babies a great portable bed is the snuggle nest; it’s small and your baby will enjoy having her own familiar territory.
Don’t always make food a reward. Often parents use it to compromise: “We’ll go around the city and then we’ll get ice cream;” or “We’ll visit Aunt Maggie and get cake and pizza.” Food should not be a reward nor should be television, remember you are raising a human being and working on the foundation of his/her future habits. Engage your kid ask the adult you visit not to offer sugar treats to your child, but ask them to tell your kids a story about their past, your relationship when you were kids etc., (all adult love story telling especially about themselves.)
When you tour a city make sure you engage your child’s imagination, making things fun can change the experience dramatically. If you are going back home to were you grew up consider driving around and pointing out the school you or your family members attended, the house you grew up in, the park you used to play at. Tell your children what you know about family members. They may be surprised to learn that chubby Aunt Meggie, the one that gives slobbery kisses, once marched against the war in Vietnam.
Make it fun!
Take lot’s of pictures and when you get back home involve your kids in creating a scrap book for the trip. Create a healthy travel ritual from the very beginning and your kids will turn into pro globe trotters.