The holiday season is a time for joy and togetherness, but it can often bring stress for parents of young children with the amount of “newness” in each experience, particularly when it comes to seasonal travel.
To help make holiday travel with little ones more manageable – whether traveling by bus, train, car or plane – Dr. Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, pediatric medical consultant for Gerber, offers this guidance for families.
Especially if traveling by plane, pack as light as possible (or check most of your luggage) so you have less to maneuver through security gates and on the plane. However, for longer trips, packing small, developmentally appropriate toys and snacks can provide perfect entertainment for little ones.
PREPARE FOR EAR PRESSURE
Babies often scream during takeoff and landing on flights because they can’t easily equalize the pressure in their eustachian tubes, the connection between their ears and the back of the throat. When you’re ascending and descending, give your baby something safe to suck on, like a pacifier, to reduce the buildup of pressure in the ears. Taking small sips of water, breastmilk or formula and yawning are also ways to help babies and toddlers experiencing ear pressure during flights.
PLAN FOR TIME ADJUSTMENTS
For long trips that include time zone changes, expect children to take several days to grow accustomed to their new schedules. Plan an extra day or two for that time adjustment, if possible, when mapping out your trip and make time for stops to stretch, snack and take bathroom breaks.
PACK CONVENIENT SNACKS
Having easy-to-access snacks that don’t make a large mess can make travel easier and less stressful. For example, Gerber Plant-Tastic Banana Berry & Veggie Smash with Oats Organic Pouch and Plant-Tastic Lil’ Crunchies White Bean Hummus are nutritious snacks for toddlers that come in resealable containers that are easy to pack for on-the-go families.
BRING SANITIZING PRODUCTS
Having your own sanitizing wipes on-hand makes it easier to freshen up often-touched surfaces in public spaces like seatback trays, chairs and tables. While safe on most hard surfaces, check the label before using the wipes then allow the area to dry completely before letting your child touch it. Warm, soapy water can also be used to clean toys and other personal products.
MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE
Keeping your child on his or her normal schedule during the holidays isn’t always feasible and a few imperfections are to be expected during the busy season. However, if your baby’s feeding or sleep schedule does get thrown off by holiday events, try to return to a consistent routine as soon as possible. Be patient with yourself and your little one as you both adjust.
BE MINDFUL OF ANXIETY
While attending holiday gatherings, your child may become overwhelmed when meeting new people, including family members. Babies start to develop separation anxiety and apprehension to strangers at about 6 months old as their brains start to understand the concept of object permanence (that something still exists when it is not present). Educating loved ones about this developmental stage can help you feel less anxious about big family gatherings with your little one. If your child is particularly sensitive, try introducing new people in smaller cohorts, as opposed to introducing him or her to the whole group at once.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
While traveling with little ones can be a “bumpy road,” it’s important for parents to also try and enjoy the holidays as much as possible. Making some time for yourself – taking deep breaths, listening to a meditation on an option like the Calm app or playing a favorite song, for example – can help you recharge and relax ahead of a big event.
To find more expert tips and resources to help conquer the holiday season, visit Gerber.com.