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Traveling with your children is an amazing way to create lifelong memories.But it can also be a little stressful. Especially when traveling in winter, one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. Add especially young children to the mix and the travel experience has the potential to be even more daunting.But with a few tips and hacks from experts, your family travels (even in winter) can be far less overwhelming. And dare we say, downright enjoyable?Whitney Cesares, a pediatrician, Gerber pediatric consultant, author and mother of two, offers up these tips for globetrotting with children in tow during the winter.
Family at the airport. (photo via ShutterOK/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Most children are old enough to travel at about 6 weeks to 2 months of age (after their first set of vaccinations), but it's always best to share travel plans with your pediatrician to be sure.
The Mayo Clinic meanwhile, says air travel is appropriate for most healthy, full-term infants, but advises that before flying you should consider a number of factors including your child's age. Newborns, for instance, have developing immune systems and flying can increase their risk of catching an infectious disease.
If you do fly with an especially young baby, particularly during winter when its more common to come down with a cold or the flu, take steps to protect their health. Getting all family members vaccinated, for instance, can help to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Frequent hand washing is one of the most effective ways to keep your baby healthy during travel, says Cesares. “Avoiding sick people, giving plenty of opportunities for rest and offering a diverse array of nutritious food options (or breastmilk or formula if your baby is too young for solid foods) can also help,” Cesares explains. When traveling by car, make sure your child is properly fastened in his or her car seat. If traveling by plane, follow all crew members’ and airline instructions for a safe journey.
Traveling can be a disorienting experience for little ones so it’s important to remain consistent with eating schedules. Taking this step can provide comfort and keep babies healthy, happy, and energized along your journey. “Wholesome travel snacks are an absolute must, especially for little ones,” says Cesares.
It's also important to keep an eye on your children while eating in transit, ensuring they're safe, seated, and supervised while eating. This can help avoid any choking hazards (not to mention helping to make sure snack time stays mess, and stress, free.)
A family looks at a travel book on a plane. (photo via E+ / Hispanolistic)
Children have endless toy choices these days. Which can make it challenging when deciding what to pack. But Cesares says knowing which toys to bring (and having backups as well), is key as the right toys can be very soothing during the course of your journey.“Compact toys like rattles and teething toys are some of the best choices for tiny travelers because they're easy to pack and clean,” Cesares advises. “A stuffy or lovey can help console older babies and toddlers who may experience ear discomfort on an airplane or boredom on a road trip.”And given how tiresome travel can be, even for adults who know what to expect, it’s important to find ways to give young travelers a chance to take a break and stretch. Cesares says allowing kids to “get their wiggles out,” helps them not be overwhelmed by the experience of long travel days. Staying engaged with children is also key to keeping boredom or restlessness at bay.
A little disruption to sleep schedules is to be expected, so try not to stress about it if your little one isn't sleeping at usual times when you’re traveling.But do try to maintain your routine as much as possible. “If you plan on using a portable crib, have little ones practice sleeping in it for a few nights before you leave for your trip so they're already accustomed to it,” says Cesares. “Young sleepers can also benefit from sleep aides such as a white noise machine to ease the transition to a new environment.”
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Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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