Going Out-And-About With a Baby: Part 1, a Handy Checklistby Dr. Amanda Gummer
As the weather becomes nicer, it’s likely your family will be getting outdoors more often. It’s a great opportunity to explore some new environments together, maybe go to the farm or have a picnic.
Before you had your little bundle of joy, this was fairly easy to do. But nowadays there’s a lot more planning and you need to take the kitchen sink along with you! And there are more things to consider if your baby is potty training or weaning too.
Here are a few things to think about when planning for that family trip.
If your baby is bottle feeding, take a bottle along and plan beforehand where you will be able to warm it up. For example, you can ask for hot water at a restaurant or cafe. Alternatively you could take a thermos of hot water with you or invest in a portable bottle warmer.
If you are breastfeeding and you want to cover up (or your partner is doing the feeding, and she wants to cover up), consider wearing a loose-fitting top that your baby can be popped under, or take a muslin to rest over your baby’s head.
Find a quiet spot where your baby won’t keep getting distracted. Remember that it’s not just cafés with “breastfeeding welcome” signs that you can breastfeed in - legally, you are allowed to breastfeed almost anywhere. The only exceptions are where it’s a health and safety risk (such as if there is hazardous material around), or you’re in a religious organisation that’s reserved only for men, neither of which are likely to be your go-to place for breastfeeding! Take along some breast pads too, in case of leaking.
A good changing bag will have lots of different compartments to help keep things organised. Pop in cotton wool or wet wipes, nappy sacks for dirty nappies, and cream. You’ll want to pack at least three or four nappies, although it depends on how long you’re going to be out for and how often your baby usually needs changing.
You may also want to include a change of clothes in case of any leaks (or worse) and a ziplock bag to pop these in to get them home. Take along something to change your baby on too. There are a range of changing mats available, from thicker wipe-clean ones to more compact fabric ones.
Make it part of your routine to swap out old nappies and replace anything you’ve used, so your changing bag is ready to go every time.
Car seats and pushchairs
There are a few types of car seats, some that stay in the car, and others that you can remove from the car and attach to a pushchair. The second type can be handy when going out and about because it means you don’t have to wake your baby up when moving them in and out of the car.
When choosing a pushchair, consider where it is you'll be travelling. Are you going to be in the city, hopping on and off trains and buses? If so, a lightweight pushchair that folds up easily may be best. However, if you’re going hiking in the woods, look for something a bit more robust.
Toys can offer a great distraction when out and about, and those that can clip onto your pushchair mean you’re less likely to lose them. But be careful with toys in the car as these can become dangerous projectiles if there is a collision. Choose two or three soft toys and avoid board books or toys with hard plastic, such as teethers. You can rotate these to keep them new and interesting for your baby.
Toys also help to give your baby’s brain some extra stimulation through sensory play, such as high contrast patterns, interesting textures, and sounds. Watching or reaching for toys also helps develop your little one’s hand-eye coordination and can be a great way to interact with your baby.
If your baby has a favourite comfort toy, it can be a nightmare if it gets lost. Take a photo of the toy so you can post it to lost-and-found pages if this happens. It may also be worth buying a few of the same toy, so it can be sneakily replaced if needed!
Your handy travel checklist summarised
- ● 1-2 sterilised bottles
- ● Formula or ready mixed formula carton (or a bottle made up at home, if used within 2 hours, or kept in a cool bag with an ice pack for up to 4 hours)
- ● Hot water thermos or bottle warmer
- ● Muslin cloth
- ● Breast pads
- ● Changing bag
- ● Wet wipes or reusable wipes
- ● Nappy sacks
- ● Barrier cream
- ● Spare set of baby clothes
- ● Ziplock bag(s) for messy stuff
- ● Changing mat
- ● Removable car seat/pushchair set, or a separate pushchair
- ● Travel toys (including soft ones for the car)
Keep an eye out for part 2, where I share a travel checklist to use when weaning or potty training.