Picture perfect… thanks to weeks of planning!
The idea of a first family holiday with a baby, when you are pregnant, is a very… ‘romantic’ thing. The baby will be three months old? Sure, we’ll hop on a plane, chuck some nappies in a case alongside the bikinis and off we go, and as long as they wear suncream and one of those cute swimsuits, it’ll be easy as ABC, right? Erm, wrong.
After having written about family travel for nearly a decade, the experience of taking a newborn on holiday myself was quite the learning curve Was it wonderful? Yes. Did it take weeks of planning what to pack? Yes! Add in the anxiety you more than likely will feel as a parent (“how can we protect her from those ‘malaria-filled’ mosquitoes… in Spain?), and it can become a rollercoaster ride. But, don’t panic. You can overcome it with planning and organisation. I like to put our suitcase open about two weeks before we go, and chuck things in as I think of them/they are washed. I kept a list of what we took and what was useful, so we can use it next time and hopefully you will find it useful, too. We formula feed, so the list of feeding bits is for formula-fed babes, and the list is for a one week holiday.
[This list is for your checked in SUITCASE; also read: How can we get the baby on the plane and what to pack in your hand luggage]
What to pack in your family suitcase
- Nappies – essentials like this can be found in local supermarkets if you want to chance it. You can also pre-order things like nappies, formula etc via the airport website, but do plan that well in advance. I wasn’t able to do that when I tried to do so a week ahead of our flight.
- Wipes – the ones we bought in Spain brought baby out in a slight rash, so take a pack of your favourites, if you can
- Formula – Again, you can pre-order at airport, but we packed a brand new unopened box to avoid spills. Also pack pre-mixed, for emergencies, and a new bottle brush – they are cheap and best to avoid forgetting it in any kind of last minute packing mad dash
- Bottles – Our three-month old has around six bottles per day, so we packed seven. We use MAM bottles which are self-sterilising by adding a little water to them and heating in a microwave. Perfect for self-catering apartment holidays
- Formula measuring pots – (pink MAM pot pictured below) We boiled up the correct amount of water every day in her bottles and took out the measured formula in these pots, which saved spending more money/case weight on pre-prepared formula. We used bottled water with baby safe logos on to boil up, which I imagine is different in every country but in general it is best to avoid mineral water and look for low sodium. We used the brand LANJARON in Spain.
- Nose saline drops and nasal aspirator – AKA Snufflebabe‘s magic ‘snot sucker’! Our daughter is often congested at night and can wake up snuffly so taking these bits is a must
- Baby suncream lotion – A little controversial, as babies are not meant to be in the sun before six months and we certainly kept our little one in the shade and under a hat, but when we were out in the day and any limbs were at risk of popping out in the sun, I’d cream her up in this factor 50 made for little ones. I found the Soltan Boots cream rubs in very quickly – important with wriggly babies!
- Small toiletries – Organic Babies baby wash and cream or salve, with a natural sponge that goes hard when dried out. You will want to give them a bath after a day of sunshine and swimming. Also pack your nappy cream.
- Sponge support – Speaking of bathtime, we bought a sponge support by Summer Infant from Mothercare, (pictured above) for about £7, instead of lugging a baby bath. It was weird – it floated, even when she was on it, so not great. However, it was useful for putting her down on with a blanket over it making a comfy poolside place to sleep, in the shade
- Sun tent – Useful for putting up at the beach or by the pool if there isn’t any ready made shade
- Sleepyhead – I packed this sleeping pod at the last minute, ‘just in case’, and I’m glad I did as the travel cot in our apartment didn’t stand up and we arrived at 10pm at night… Our bed was low to the floor, so there she slept, in her Sleepyhead, beside me. This idea might not work for everyone, but it worked brilliantly for us and she slept from around 8pm to 6/7am every night
- Muslin sleeping bag – Just because you might be going to a warmer country, doesn’t mean forget the sleeping bag. Our daughter slept in a long sleeved baby grow and this aden + anais muslin sleep bag, (pictured below) because we had lovely air conditioning
- Plug in nightlight – We love our Lindam nightlight that gives a blue light so we can check on her easily in the night – and find our way to the bathroom… Taking it means we can still do that and it will give her a homely feel – DON’T FORGET ADAPTORS! Note: If you plug in loads of electrical items, why not take an extension lead? One adaptor, loads of sockets!
- Babygrows – Long sleeved and short, I took five of each, as wasn’t sure on temperature. You won’t need one per day, because you can rinse out and dry. I like colourful and patterned baby grows – because they are cute, but also they show stains less than plain
- Fancy outfits – You will want to take ‘outfits’. I did! But do make sure they are also practical, otherwise they just won’t wear them. Our daughter wore a beautiful Stella McCartney Kids romper from Alex and Alexa, (pictured below) but it was thin cotton and easy to wear/put on. Things with tiny buttons, especially those ones down the back (WHY?!) are even more annoying on holiday
- Vest baby grows – If it is super hot, baby will either be just in a nappy or a vest baby grow, which I didn’t realise were a thing until my niece wore hers. Basically a strappy top vest (pictured below) – so useful in warm weather. I bought ours from Tesco F+F, Matalan and Primark
- Swim sunsuits – I bought our daughter some divine swimsuits, real ‘mini-me’ style, but she didn’t wear them because I obviously wanted her covered up in the sun when she swam. So I’m glad we packed two full body UV 50+ all-in-one sunsuits. Again, people might do their own thing, here, but for me, she has to be covered, especially at three months. Heck, my mum made me wear a T-shirt and hat in the pool up to the age of 18!
My favourite sunsuit and hat set, from Marks & Spencer
- Layers – I took a couple of natural fibre cardigans and leggings with feet for if we went out in the evenings and it was chilly; which it was, so I would definitely recommend a couple of layer pieces.
- SnoozeShade – I don’t know what I would have done without this shade, as the pram hood doesn’t come down far enough to make sure she is covered from the sun. Blankets and drapes can apparently make a pram overheat inside, so this SnoozeShade makes a great solution and velcro tags onto most, if not all, prams. I got ours from Tesco
- Medical bits – I packed a digital thermometer, Sudocrem, Calpol sachets and spoon, the saline nose drops, antiseptic wipes, teething gel and Infacol, as well as Ibuprofen, paracetamol and afterbite for us for us adults. Plus, the Compeed lip patches for cold sore outbreaks. We often get them in the hot weather and they can be potentially dangerous to babies if left as an open wound
- Baby swim towel – Every baby needs a hooded towel for after swimming and bathtime, if for no other reason than it looks very cute! Plus will smell of home
Hooded towel from Sainsburys
- Muslins – I LOVE muslins, so took about ten. You don;t need that many, maybe five, because you can wash them out, but I do use about five a day for mopping, as a bib when I forget a bib, as a sleeping comforter and lots more
- Bibs – I took three and washed them when she was sick. The Nuby teething bibs are great as they have a teething chew on the end of them
- Playmat – I am so glad I packed a playmate, which is kind of like a blanket, as she rolled around on it every morning in the lounge when we ate breakfast. She wasn’t big enough for a highchair, and having a mat meant we didn’t always have to be holding her. Mine was from Willa and the Bear, and is actually listed as a ‘cot quilt’
- Toys – Our three-month old is entertained by a blank wall, but as she was learning to roll and was teething, we took a set of teething toy keys and a rattle rabbit. To be fair, she is just as happy with a dangled or scrunched up muslin cloth
Large muslins by aden + anais – our favourite brand of muslins
She did wear the swimsuit… inside the apartment!