Digital Marketing Manager Joanna Galvin jumped in at the deep-end, braving long car and plane journeys with a very young baby. She shares her top tips for keeping babies and young children busy – and happy - when travelling. Happy holidays!
Walking down the aisle of a plane with a baby is a little like carrying the plague. Your fellow passengers have one hope, that you will keep on walking and be seated as far away from them as possible. Our first flight was when Olive was 3 months old and I had held off feeding her until the plane took off in an attempt to soothe her ears and maximise chances of sleep. I felt like I needed to share this master plan with the plane: "Don't worry, I know she's crying now, but honestly, it's All. Under. Control". But milk couldn't be the only weapon in my artillery. One tip another parent had given me was to travel light, the less you have, the less you need to carry and worry about forgetting. And that's the great thing about books – they're small, flat, light, have so many uses beyond reading – flap them in their air like butterflies, clap the pages together like a snappy crocodile, peekaboo through the cut outs.
And then there's the mighty iPhone; I honestly don't know how I would've survived the first 12 weeks of parenthood without it. Constantly Googling "is it normal….?", providing access to the outside world when you can barely find time to eat between feeds, nappy changes and colicky meltdowns and then there are the apps…
When Olive was 5 weeks old we drove to Holland for Olive's great-grandmother’s birthday and the only way we made it through that car journey was with the aid of the Ladybird Peekaboo app, oh and Adele (yes, babies love Adele). That little red, angry face would be pacified in seconds when presented with the bright images and plinky plonky music of the app and we were happy to listen to it for hours on repeat if it kept the peace. And at one year old, she still loves that app.
By three months, Olive was just starting to reach out and touch the pages of the Baby Touch books. Exploring all the textures and flaps and really starting to take a more active role in the whole reading experience and they made perfect tummy time fodder. The books were invaluable all holiday, popped under the buggy for entertainment in restaurants, on the bedside table for early morning story time and an extra 10 minutes in bed and just to keep some semblance of a routine away from home, reading our favourite lullaby book each night before bed.
By the time we flew again, Olive had just turned one and I realised that in hindsight, flying with a tiny breastfeeding baby is a lot easier than with a wriggly, newly walking toddler who absolutely does not respect the seatbelt sign! Some of our favourite reads for this trip were the Peepo range, they are so small and chunky, perfectly indestructible and just the right size for Olive to manage turning the pages herself and exploring all the pictures under the flaps, especially the mirror at the end which resulted in a lot of kissing of her reflection! She's now started bringing us books and plonking down on our laps to be read to and it's so amazing to see how engaged she is and how much she seems to be enjoying the story and developing her favourites already.
Whether it's Sunday lunch in the pub or a weekend away, books are always the first thing to go in her rucksack and after a year of relentless use, I can safely say that books are without doubt one of the best investments in her toy bag.
Have a great summer,
Do you have something up your sleeve to keep your baby or toddler happy (and you sane!) when travelling? It's great to be armed with as many tried and tested tips as possible before setting off on holiday, so please do share your tip by leaving a comment to this post, we'd love to hear it!