Having just got home from our first family trip abroad I feel both refreshed and in need of another holiday in equal measures.
My wife put so much research into making sure our trip abroad was one we could remember for all the right reasons I was concerned that if it didn’t work out what the fallout would be.
It was, thankfully, totally worth it.
During her extensive research of blogs, chat rooms, websites, brochures etc she came across some helpful titbits that ensured baby felt as comfortable as she could be on a plane for the first time, sleeping in a new bed and also what to do with sand! I will share these little nuggets of information on the off chance that regular readers with babies are booking a holiday soon, or someone searching a tag or category can benefit from my wife’s collation of holiday hacks. Or for those that are none of the above, but are lovely enough to read on.
Tip of the cap to the people of Pollença (Pollensa) in Majorca, a beautiful spot in the north of the island that is VERY child friendly; all bars, restaurants and shops are buggy friendly, particularly once you master the pedestrian crossing etiquette – generally take a leap of faith and walk out across the zebra crossing, there are no lights to stop traffic, they are SUPPOSED to stop when you are waiting to cross. With such a precious cargo in the buggy whichever parent wasn’t pushing had to take on the role of lolly pop person and guide the other over safely, there were a few false starts as we doubted the brakes of some vehicles.
We stayed in Las Velas, a hotel of self-catering apartments about a 5 minute walk away from the beach and 20 minute walk from the main stretch of restaurants on the Pine Walk. At check-in Bea was awake and full of smiles, after a few minutes of chat in Spanish between reception staff and a couple of clicks on the computer we were told we had a free upgrade to a room with a balcony and a roof terrace. We like to think that this down to her smiles and gurgles of delight to the reception staff attention, not the fact they saw a baby and thought lets get them as far away from other guests as possible!
HOLIDAY HACK – FLIGHT MODE If flying with a little one, take a bottle of milk, water or get a boob out for feeding during take off and landing. The suck movement of the jaw and swallowing will ease the pain of ears popping. Unlike us who can hold our nose and pull a funny face; puffing cheeks out to attempt to. They just stare at you as if you are a little bit weird.
Staying in an apartment meant we had a little kitchen, this meant we could have breakfast whenever we woke up (more importantly when baby woke up),so there was no rush to make it to a set time or venue. Mornings therefore were pretty relaxed, the only concern were the hard tiled floors and a baby determined to throw herself around in the high chair (provided along with cot by the hotel – all down to the extensive research).
We packed our baby monitor from home, along with almost everything else. For some reason only one of the MANY Ella’s pouches we packed raised concern at security leaving the UK. I don’t know what they put in their breakfast packets but it went through two pretty expensive looking machines for testing. Those that have read previous blogs will know we are a bottle feeding family, there was a chance we would have to do rock, paper, scissors to see who would have to taste the formula to prove it was not some sort of combustible liquid going onto the plane, but these machines gave them the once over and they were handed back to us. PHEW no need for tasting!
It turns out Spain is not a third world country and they do sell baby items! So you don’t need to pack the entire contents of your kitchen cupboards. I say this in jest as it felt like we had enough pouches and powder to feed an entire nursery… But we weren’t to know what would be on offer so with the added weight allowance of having a little person in tow we packed the lot!
Skip to a funny moment in the local super market with both of us trying to work out which nappies were the all night/sleep variety (guess what we forgot to pack)
“This one has a kid being ‘active’ on it”
“These have got a sun on!”
“Oooh this has a moon on the pack… These have to be the ones – get um!”
One thing we did remember to pack, but forgot to use is talcum powder
HOLIDAY HACK – SAND Apparently, and I’m sorry I have no anecdotal evidence of this, but talcum powder is very effective when it comes to getting sand off little people. Grab a handful of talc (possibly from that bottle your nan got you for Christmas in 1998) and use it to effectively rid sand from the rolls of chunk on baby’s thighs, arms and neck. As I say, we had all the best intentions to do this, but talc is not the first thing to go on the list of what to pack in the beach bag… Still trying to master this parenting lark! So dips in the sea were used to rid the grains, we also resorted to holding her naked in the shower and hosing her down…
Alas we were still finding sand days later.
What didn’t help was the fact that Bea seemed to enjoy devouring sand.
By. The. Handful!!!
When it came to putting her to sleep we had two choices, stick to our routine from home and have her in bed by 7ish (not much chance therefore to visit local eateries) OR to take her with us, put her in her sleep gear and hope she would nod off while we ate.
Now multi tasking is some thing men get some slack over not being able to do, but I successfully managed the eating food and rocking baby with my foot combo, so we had meals out got bubs back to bed afterwards.
HOLIDAY HACK – HIGHCHAIRS This was not from research, this one happened through necessity. Almost every high chair we used, including the one in the apartment didn’t have a middle bit/strap to put babies legs either side of. Which meant if she was feeling very Houdini-like she could have slipped through. So taking a muslin I fashioned a makeshift strap tying it between bar across her belly and to the bar near her feet to stop any limbo type escaping.
Getting back to the apartment and putting baby to bed was usually pretty easy, on the walk back along the coast she would normally nod off through sheer exhaustion of eating sand, knocking back handfuls of sea water or trying to roll off every surface onto the extremely hard floor during her days.
Long gone are the days of sitting on a sun lounger for hours at a time, heading to the bar to grab a cocktail or taking a dip in the sea to cool off. With a small person on holiday we were pretty exhausted too. To enable EVERYONE to get a decent nights sleep there were a couple of tips we picked up on, and I can say these worked as she slept mostly through the night for a good 8-10 hours!!!
HOLIDAY HACK – BEDTIME We packed a sheet from home to place in the cot for baby. The science behind this is it is something she recognises from bedtime at home thus feeling comfortable and the smell of our usual washing powder will add to this. No scratchy/starchy sheets that smell weird will hopefully help little one drift off.
Assuming you book a trip away where sun is almost guaranteed I suggest using a blackout blind. Buy one, borrow one, what ever you do stop the morning suns rays from entering the bedroom. The one we borrowed was a ‘travel version’ it had suction pads allowing me to shut out the light effectively, drawing the curtains added extra gloom. So nap time at any point of the day was like that of the night. And the early morning sun didn’t stir her.
Non holiday nap/bedtimes are usually accompanied by the Sleep Squad, these are the cuddly toys that inhabit the cot with Bea, I guess naming them the Sleep Squad is my way of making them sound similar to comic book heroes (lame attempt at indoctrinating her to that world), these guys are the heroes of sleep.
I’m sure all parents have a few favourite toys that they place in the cot, or babies have one they will eat the limbs of more than others. We packed two favourites: Bumble Bee and Tag Blanket (yes I have named them, and yes they all have different voices when I make them talk to bubs) and new recruits Don the dinosaur and LadyBug joined us. New toys add to the excitement of holiday, we used them on the flight to distract baby, “ooh new toy, new limbs to chew on!” They quickly became recruits to the Sleep Squad and were even favoured over older members for nap time.
All these HOLIDAY HACKS led to a very chilled baby happy to experience new things and a great holiday for all of us. The only issue we had was the mixture of sand consumption and heat made her a little bit dehydrated, we tried to get her to drink as much water/milk as we could, we even had her trying watermelon and kiwi fruit to try getting liquid into her that way. The dehydration meant she suffered a bit of constipation. When poos did make an appearance they looked like pebbles from the beach – slightly concerning!
However, on our flight home gone were the pebble poos, a waft of stench floated across our nostrils, the standard lift baby and smell her undercarriage led to the conclusion that there was “one in the chamber”, this just as the pilot announced we were getting ready to land. A quick dash to the toilet and I was multitasking again. Preventing baby from rolling off the change table into the mini sink, while keeping my balance as the plane banked and dropped altitude. Can now add the mile high change club to my parent CV.
And just when we started thinking she was probably feeling a bit better having been able to relieve herself properly, at meal time on arrival home an ABSOLUTE monster poo that covered her had me cutting her out of her vest (no envelope shoulders) to prevent an unwanted face mask.
Welcome home parents. Thanks for the holiday!!!
Do you have any HOLIDAY HACKS that you can share?
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