In her 9 short months on this earth Althea has already ticked off 5 countries, she is one very lucky little girl (and we are two very exhausted Parents). It is safe to say that travelling isn’t what it used to be, it isn’t always easy and in all honesty, it isn’t always fun. I’d be lying if I haven’t had moments where I’ve thought ‘We should have stayed at home’ (like the time she screamed for over half an hour in 30 + degree Celsius in the middle of Nara Dear Park in Japan and I cried on a bench). But travelling with a little person is undeniably an amazing experience, regardless. You just have to be organised, flexible and slow right down. Take yesterday, we had all sorts of plans to visit Erawan Museum but Althea was beside herself in the morning with teething and then over tired come the afternoon. So instead we ate good food, took some long naps and went for a swim in the pool.
Under 6 months was without a doubt the easiest time to travel with Althea. She was napping 3+ times a day and would sleep happily in her carrier, she hadn’t started solids properly, she wasn’t moving around and her routine was more flexible. My advice to any new parent is to use this time wisely! Go places, do things and abandon routine occasionally, it does no harm at this stage.
Sitting, crawling and eating solids are game changers, especially when it comes to planning holidays and travel. Here are a few of the things we now keep in mind when choosing where we will stay
Freedom of Movement – As montessori parents we value freedom of movement and exploration. Little ones tend to be quite happy with any new space, however the more of it there is and the more of it they are allowed to explore, the better. We try and book Airbnb’s and apartments where possible. A home setting, albeit new to them, offers a more familiar set up.
Babyproofed – Janet Lansbury, in her book Elevating Childcare, talks about creating a ‘Yes Space’. Babies can’t engage in uniterrupted, self-directed play if they are constantly being told ‘No don’t touch that!’. This can be a challenge even at home and although freedom of movement is important, safety is more so. Taking plug socket covers, furniture corner pads and sanitiser with you might be an idea. If the space really isn’t going to be safe for your little one then you might want to consider taking something like the Summer Pop n Play, which still allows enough space for your little one to move around.
Self-catered – whether you are doing purees, baby-led or both, a kitchen with a sink, a fridge, a kettle and cooking appliances are probably essential. During our trip around Japan (at 6 months) we used Ella’s kitchen pouches and this worked well. Then we hit 8 months and Althea would no longer let us feed her so we had to go ‘baby-led’. We try and give her what we eat at home but this is harder when you’re travelling, especially when you are eating out a lot. We’re currently in Thailand and local food isn’t always suitable, so we’re packing lots of finger foods for day time trips out and cooking her something simple in the evenings like pasta and veg. I packed a number of pouches because she will occassionally let us squeeze one straight into her mouth. Last night we mixed an Ella’s kitchen stage 2 vegetable lentil bake in with some pasta and chunks of boiled squash and baby sweet corn and let her feed it to herself. We deal with the mess by simply sitting her a washing up bowl we found in the apartment and then taking her straight to the shower in it.
Laundry – when you have a baby you wash a lot. Not just their clothes but yours too. It is easier if you have a washing machine in the apartment but a laundrette nearby works too. Somewhere to hang wet clothes to dry so you can avoid the dryer is handy as well.
Low shelves – obviously actual shelves aren’t essential but being able to adopt the montessori concept of low shelves where you are staying is nice for your little one. If there aren’t any low shelves then think about turning something upside down (like a box) to make a little table or find a bit of floor space where you can set out a selection of materials/toys. Where we are currently staying they have this beautiful TV cabinet which is just perfect. They also had a little wooden caddy that I’ve placed some of her toys in. This is ideal right now as she really enjoys the action of taking things out.
What you decide to bring for baby completely depends on your child’s current age, stage and interests. So far Sophie the giraffe has had the pleasure of joining us on all of our travels and we have always packed some books. Here’s what we included this time for a teething baby on the move who enjoys shaking and mouthing objects and taking things out/emptying.
DIY Box and Wooden Ring – this is a great multi-purpose material. Initially she really enjoyed using it as a shaker/noise maker but now she has figured out how to take the lid off so she can take out the teether as well.
Stacking cups – we didn’t bring them all, just the smallest 5 so that she can use them for water play at bath time and in the pool, for nesting and stacking and on the beach as sand moulds.
Wooden teether – she’s currently got one of her top teeth coming through so an extra teether is handy to have
Bell Rattle – she has a bell brick that she loves but this one rolls so it was great to introduce when she started crawling
Baby Paper – this is great sensory material that is easy to pack in your bag
Sophie – hands down the best teether and she squeaks. I do wish I’d bought the Sophie Ice Bite Telephone before we left though
Drawstring bag with IKEA finger puppets – Althea enjoys sorting through the bag, taking them out one by one, mouthing them and discarding them. But this is also works as a song bag activity you can play together. We shake the bag and sing ‘what’s in the bag? What’s in the bag e-i-en-e-o what’s in the bag’ and then we take one out at a time and sing a song relating to the puppet or just make the noises.
O-ball – this makes for a good teething toy but it also twists and clicks which is great for fine motor skills at this stage
Toy Ball – we’re really into ball games at the moment! She can now throw and pass the ball and she will crawl after it. I chose this particular ball because it can also be used in water.
Toy car – this is actually a toy we found and is for older children so we supervise her with it because of the small wheels. It’s a great size for her little hands though, she loves studying the detail and she has just learnt that if she pushes it, it will go.
All of this (apart from 2 books) packs into one small drawstring bag that I keep in our hand luggage for the flight. Usually for day trips we take sophie, the baby paper and the bag of puppets.
I would love to hear what you pack for your little one either for holidays and travelling or just for days out.