Saturday, 4 June 2011

Travelling with a baby or young toddler

Apologies about the lack of posts, we've been away for a week in the UK.  It got me thinking on the way back and I thought I'd share some tips about long car journeys I've learned so far.

Most UK service stations have microwave points for baby food.  Some even have free jar food for kids but I wouldn't rely on it; in one place I saw the option was a jar of porridge.  Hmm.  Still, you can easily pack up some home made frozen food portions in a cool bag.  So great, you've heated up your food.  Now what?  I find that most meals take about 15 mins to cool down to a reasonable temperature.  Well that's ok if you want a long break but not all babies are happy for 15 mins and to be honest you probably want to get back on the road.  This is where you sneak a plate from the food service and spread the food out on it to maximise the surface area to volume ratio.  Magic!  Food cooled down in less than 5 mins.

Next is the inevitable change.  This goes for all public changing rooms.  Let's face it, there is no way to ensure the hygiene of changing areas and you can guarantee that any public changing mat has had poo on it fairly recently.  Would you sit somewhere you knew had recently had another person's poo?  Nope?  Thought not.  My suggestion is you use the travel changing mat on top of whatever mat is there.  That way you get the cushioning from the mat but without sharing the bacteria.  My next tip (and I'm going to sound like a hygiene freak here) is once you have changed your baby, even with the best of intentions washing your hands is difficult and often rushed so put a bottle of alcohol sanitiser or antibacterial hand wipes in your change bag (not antibacterial surface wipes, they're different) and use them afterwards.  Still wash your hands with soap and water, the antibacterial wipes and gel don't work on all bacteria but it's better than an inefficient handwash on its own.

Next is obviously back to the car, I've found that when I'm travelling with my husband, I sit in the back with my son.  It's so hard, even now he's front facing (but more so when he was rear facing) to ensure he's ok.  At least in the back you can have a selection of toys set up to pass to your child and see more clearly whether they're cold, tired, hungry etc.  We managed to have drinks of water and snacks of some raisins which I would never have managed from the front seat.  My last tip is when your child has decided to throw all of the toys down the side of his chair out of reach from you, the last option is to think "what else do I have that he could play with" and think laterally.  Obviously there are options like singing, ones with actions seem to go down well when my little one is cooped up in his chair (see below for some suggestions), but what about peekaboo?  Even my 12 month old still enjoys this, although he plays it himself (throw a muslin over his head and he then will go for a full 10 mins or so), an interesting textured blanket can amuse for a while, but my best discovery was he is obsessed with zips at the moment so his coat kept him amused for ages.

Anyway here are some song suggestions:

 5 currant buns in a baker’s shop
5 little men in a flying saucer
Open shut them
5 little ducks
Twinkle twinkle little star
Wind the bobbin up
Teddy jumps

I'm sure I'll add to these.  Drop in a comment if you need any words.

I've linked this up to an "oldies but goodies" post on 3 children and it!


  1. Thanks for this - singing was always a good one for us too - though there are only so many verses of "Old MacDonald" I was able to get through without going slowly insane....

    1. Oh agreed but I would take a touch of insanity over a screaming child any day...

  2. What useful tips! Wish I'd seen this when we had small kids/babies :) We always used nursery rhyme CDs and I think those special mirrors that you can put on your rear view mirror so that you can seem them at all times are good. We had a special mobile that you could stick to the window for them when they were really tiny - kept them amused for hours!

    1. That's a good idea. We had the mirrors too but we found having one of us in the back was much better because it was as much about him seeing me as me seeing him. Generally if I was close by we would have an additional 30 minutes at least of peace before complete meltdown.


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