Even though Will and I have always been keen travellers, we perhaps wouldn’t have chosen to go away quite so much with Felicity in her first year, but circumstances overtook us. With five weddings scattered across the country plus Will’s sabbatical in Scotland which meant a month away, Felicity has clocked up a fair few nights away from home already.
This is not a definitive list of everything you’ll need to take when going away with a baby as children of different ages and temperaments, let alone different parents will clearly need different things. These are just some products we have come across along the way that have made our lives a lot easier!
Travel cot to suit your needs (1.) Before planning our month long trip I read a few baby travel essentials lists. Most of which seemed comically obvious – such as including cots/prams/car seats which I’m fairly confident parents use everyday and have the sense to take with them when away from home (rather than just letting the baby bounce around in the back of the car because you’re going on a longer journey…) So I’m trying to avoid the patronisingly obvious in this list. But a travel cot was something we thought about a lot so I did want to include it.
I’m not going to recommend a specific brand or type of portable cot. You may be cosleeping in which case you won’t need to worry. You may be in a small tent in which case a full size version is not a possibility. Or if travelling by public transport weight and size is probably the most crucial element.
All I will say is price doesn’t really matter if it works for you as a family. We got an excellent travel cot for twenty pounds from Aldi (the Hauck Dream’n Play if you’re wondering) and we find it brilliant because it folds up and down in three minutes flat and, even better, fits Felicity’s full size cot mattress from home in it. She’s a bit of a princess and the pea around sleep – we had to give up on the under mattress breathing monitor as she didn’t like the hard lump- so lugging a massive mattress around is worth it for us. Even if we had a smaller car I would happily compromise my own luggage if it meant we can bring the mattress and get some sleep.
Clearly recommending taking a full size cot mattress around with you isn’t pack light advice, we couldn’t do it if we were flying, but for the long trips we’ve been doing it’s worked for us as everything is the same as at home from the mattress to the bedding. If we were flying I would look at getting a softer mattress insert or a different travel cot as the mattress of the Hauck one is quite hard. Go with your instincts about sleeping arrangements when away – just like at home really!
Cold water sterilising tablets (2.) my mother in law suggested these when we were having to do lots of little bits of sterilising when Felicity was on reflux medication. I have to say initially I was a bit dubious as they seemed faffy compare to our microwave steriliser but I’ve been converted. We used to keep a tupperware box on our worktop which we chucked things into as and when, which was very easy as you just need to change the water once every 24 hours and then you’re done. Super small to pack and you can use a zip lock bag or any lidded box (like an ice cream tub) to set up your portable sterilising station whilst away.
Gro anywhere blackout blind (3.) People seem very divided on these portable black out blinds, there are some quite negative reviews online saying they don’t work. I have found completely the opposite, they darken the room well and stay attached. I haven’t just been using them on a standard window either – they still stayed up even when stretched over a half open window in a recent heat wave, and round a slight corner due to the particular way this window opened. You do have to spend a bit of time making sure all the sucker pads are moist before attaching, the only time one fell off was when I was being lazy and skipped this bit. It maybe takes three minutes more to do this though so not exactly a hardship. They work great for us as there is no way we’d ever get Felicity into her bed during the Summer without something to darken her room.
IKEA Antilop high chair (4.) Again this is more for when travelling by car if space is less of an issue but we’ve found this super cheap IKEA high chair is actually very easy to pack up and take on the road, as the legs pop off and on very easily. I stuff it in the car very regularly when heading over to friends’ houses. Even if you don’t have room for the whole chair, the padded blow up insert is also really good in the early days of weaning and is portable for restaurant high chairs which may be a bit big for baby initially. We also have a fabric over-seat high chair which is much better space wise but isn’t always very good for bringing Felicity up to the height of the table, so the Antilop is still my favourite if there’s room.
Lassig long sleeve bib (5.) I admire the parents who freestyle it with tiny little bibs when weaning. For Felicity I’m a fan of the coverall smock and she still usually manages to make a mess all over her clothes. We use cheap supermarket towelling ones at home but these can rarely be reused without a wash so aren’t the best for out and about. I love these German made bibs though, you can both give them a quick wipe with the washing up like a plastic bib, or a very quick handwash at the end of the day, and you can still machine wash. Very fast drying as they’re mega light and they fold really small which is also a win for travelling. They’re also not too expensive if you compromise on choice of pattern, and are produced in an ecologically conscious way as well.
Tiny tots bath (6.) I’m a bit obsessed with this blow up bath. I bought it in a panic when suddenly realising we weren’t sure if we would have a bath on one of our nights away. We rely on our bath time routine too much for Felicity’s sleep to wing it. This bath can fit in a shower tray and was about ten pounds so I ordered one, worried it would be a bit of a gimmick. It’s actually amazing! We’ve started using it every night at home rather than use a bath seat. For Felicity, who randomly flings herself at things, the blow up soft sides are only a good thing, and it also saves water as you don’t have to fill up the whole tub. It’s easy to blow up without a pump and obviously folds down smaller when deflated. It even has a hook so you can dry it off before packing it up again. Stupidly one of the most unexpectedly good baby products we’ve bought overall, not just for travel.
OiOi fold up changing mat (7.) This is a luxury one as they’re quite pricey, but I love the pattern on mine so much (and I got an in packet brand new one for two pounds secondhand, which also helps). There’s room in the side pockets for a small pack of wipes and a couple of nappies, plus a zip pocket which I use for nappy sacks. Great for slinging in a backpack before heading out, and not lugging the whole changing bag across crowded cafes.