Travelling with baby

Last month I travelled to Penang with baby and being the mad planner woman I started scouring the internet for packing tips and the results were all somewhat unsatisfactory. So I decided that for the greater good of motherkind I’m going to write the decisive quide on packing for baby. Ok I’m clearly kidding. You are going to have to adapt the list to your particular circumstances, like medication your baby is taking for eg. But I’m hoping this will be a good starting point for mummies as clueless as I was.

I) MILK (Very important)

If your baby is breastfeeding by direct latching, this is simple. You just need to bring your nursing tops and cover and you’re good to go.

If your baby is on formula its not all that tough either. Bring a small tin if you are not sure whether the place you are going to sells the brand you are using. If you plan to buy at the destination, even easier, just bring enough for the trip.

You’ll need water to mix up the and for the trip it can be brought in a thermos flask. Milk and hot water can be brought on the plane if you are travelling with baby. But its impossible to bring enough water for the entire trip and if you are travelling to a place where you’re uncertain about the tap water’s cleanliness, buy bottled water at destination. Select distilled water or drinking water or reverse osmosis water, not mineral water, mineralised water or natural spring water. This is because the additional minerals may be too much for baby’s kidneys to handle. There are certain brands of mineral water which is safe for mixing up formula, Evian being one of the popular ones, but to me its too much trouble to remember which are the safe ones. Just go with distilled water to be safe.

If your baby is on expressed breastmilk like mine is, its the most troublesome. You need to being your pump, pump parts, charger, bottle to store expressed milk, cooler bag to bring milk out with and a portable warmer. I packed prince lionheart’s on-the-go bottle warmer. I sometimes also filled a thermos funtainer with warm water which then can be used to warm milk as well as food.

II Sterilisation

This is kind of related to milk but I thought it deserves a separate category because there are a few options to discuss.

What I did, which I think is the most practical, is to bring a large heatproof container sufficient to fit everything I needed to sterilise (bottles and pump parts). After washing everything with local tap water I boiled bottled water with the kettle provided in the hotel room and poured the boiling water over the washed items placed inside the heatproof container. Towards the later part of the trip I just used boiling tap water and it was still fine but again depends on where you are and how safe the water is, and also how fussy you / your baby is. You may even want to wash with bottled water but I found that way too troublesome. The last boiling water rinse will surely flush away all the bad stuff.

Medela also sells some quickclean wipes that can be used to wipe down and sterilise but I can’t see how these wipes can reach the inside of the pump parts or the bottom of the bottle so I didn’t end up using these after buying them.

Pigeon and tollyjoy also sells sterilisation tablets which I used while on a staycation with hubby (without baby) but I did not end up using the milk pumped while on staycation so whether baby would drink that milk is still an unknown. The tablets are mixed with a specified amount of water and bottles and parts need to be submerged in the solution for a certain number of hours. The solution smelt like chlorine and I was told bleaches certain surfaces so I can’t imagine it to be very good for baby to consume even minute quantities of it.

Lastly, you can also bring along your steriliser but these tend to be bulky so only do it if none of the above are a satisfactory option to you.

III Food

If your baby has already started solids then this is another matter to consider. Even if you are generally fussy about preparing home cooked meals for baby (as I am) I would say forget it during the trip. If your baby is below 1 year old then bring commercial baby food purees. I like happy baby meals because of the BPA free packaging and organic ingredients. Sophia likes to eat them too. I didn’t bother heating the room temperature food up but when its the refridgerated portion (I separate the portions before feeding), I’ll use warm water in funtainer container to warm it up or ask for warm water at the restaurant.

If your child is above 1 and the place you are going will have clean restaurants then don’t even bother with commercial food. Just feed baby parts of the adults’ meal that is soft enough for her teeth/gums to process. Like the breads and roasted veges and fruits etc.

You’ll also need bowls or some type of container (I used Avent’s via cups which were convenient as both storage and bowl), spoons (I used munchkins take & toss which were pretty durable and BPA free but yet cheap so I didn’t feel heartache if I lost it or dropped it etc) and bibs.

I also brought pigeon hand and mouth wipes and some dettol hand sanitiser for cleaning up before and after meals. And tonnes of tissues.

Oh yes, don’t forget the sippy cup / straw cup.

IV Clothes

Pack according to climate and what your baby usually wears. Things to think about are: going out clothes, pyjamas, swimwear, shoes/socks, mittens if baby is really small, hat, jacket, winter wear, leggings and gloves.

V Diapers

Either bring enough for trip or buy at destination. Also bring/buy wet wipes and barrier cream.

VI Entertainment

What you bring in this category depends on what your baby likes at the moment. Definitely bring his/her favourite toy. Some books could be good. Security blanket if he/she has one. Snacks like little biscuits or rice puffs are also good when used sparingly.

VII Medication

Madaboutbaby made a good point about baby medication, which is especially essential if you are heading to a country where you do not trust the hospitals / doctors, or a country where you potentially will have difficulty communicating with doctors because of linguistic barriers. To me there are 2 categories, which I shall explore below:

First category being the “daily comfort” category ie gripewater, ruyi oil or whatever else you may use on your baby on a regular basis to make baby feel comfortable. I personally don’t like to get my baby reliant on these things so don’t tend to use them (plus I’m just too lazy). But if you do use them then a trip is not a good time to drop them and you definitely should lug them along.

Second category are the things that would come in handy if someone should fall sick or for minor accidents.

For minor accidents, all you need are really: (i) a disinfectent – a vial or two of normal saline available at most pharmacies will do. Or if you are not concerned about the sting then a few alcohol swabs. (ii) an antiseptic (yes, this is different from disinfectent) and it is again available at pharmacies. I tend to stock Burnol but there are many others out there. (iii) simple bandaging equipment. Some sterile gauze and a roll of surgical tape would serve most purposes. If you are concerned about looks then opsite’s good.

For the falling sick bit I guess the list can poteltially be very long, especially for people used to say the North American culture where people self medicate with otc medication a lot. I tend to head to the GP if I am sick and am generally unfamiliar with self medication options so only brought paracetamol.

Oh yar and I suppose there is one last category that I wrote off even though I know they exist – the equivalent of sleeping pills to knock baby out for the flight. They’re available from GPs and paediatricians and possibly even pharmacies. Even when my baby is sick I object to putting more medicine in her than is absolutely necessary so I certainly wouldn’t inflict sleeping pills on her when she’s well. But then again my baby is ok with take offs and landings and, though active, not overly so such that she will scream from boredom of the flight. So no judgement if you feel the need to use some modern medicine to preserve the sanity of fellow passengers.

I think those are the main categories. Let me know in the comments if there’s any I missed!