3 Tips on Traveling With A Toddler
We've been in Italy exactly 1 month today, still a few weeks left to go! It's been a bit of a whirlwind and a great one but it surely didn't start off that way!
Like most moms, I like to know that I've carefully thought out every single possible scenario. Will we be swimming? Or hiking? Will it be super hot or will there be heavy rain? Did I pack the sunscreen and bug spray? Do I have enough snacks and toys? Is his sippy cup full of water? Did I pack a change of clothes in my carry-on in case of a blow-out or two?
If you're a mama considering travel in the near future with your tiny tot but feel overwhelmed, here are a few things I would tell my pre-traveling, anxious, worried, mama-self.
1) Less is more
Like most mamas I know, I can imagine that your packing list is endless! You want your trip to be fun and memorable, but you don't want to blame yourself later on for forgetting something essential you can't get elsewhere or bring so much stuff that it's impossible to easily check in and out. So, here it is: pack what you absolutely MUST have for your little one, and if you forget the rest, it's gonna be okay. Truly. It will be! Most airports have diapers, wipes, general toiletry items, toys and a very high chance that if you run out of any essentials, wherever you're going will have some type of pharmacy or as they say in Italy, a "Farmacia" on almost every corner. You will be okay. Your baby will be okay. B R E A T H E mama. Pack one of everything and leave it at that. When it comes to clothing for baby, pack a little bit of everything. For ex) Italy is known for hot scorching summer weather but on some nights in certain towns, it tend to be a little breezy for a baby so I'm glad I packed his 1 cozy zip-up sweater "just in case!"
2) Everything is Entertainment
Worried about your baby crying and making a fuss on a plane? Totally normal. It can be ultra anxiety-inducing to not know how your little one will react on their first big flight. Chances are - yes, maybe they will cry. And surprisingly, maybe they won't! Gio shocked me and didn't cry terribly, not even once. Phew! Sure, it took some time for him to settle in but eventually he did. He slept on top of me for most of the flight. Sure, it wasn't exactly the most comfortable for me but knowing he was calm and able to sleep made me feel waaay better! And, don't worry about packing every little toy they love. Maybe bring 1-2 things they enjoy, some chewy soothers, a light colorful book and trust that walking on the plane, and every other little thing they see is new and exciting. Everything is entertainment - from new people passing by the aisles, loading their overhead compartments, to the food carts, headphones and even plane food and snacks. A huge tip: if you are breastfeeding, aim to feed upon departure and landing to help avoid any ear discomfort with the changes in altitude or loud noises. Bottle feeding works perfectly well too! And if they do scream their head off. Don't worry. It will pass. Breathe, focus on remaining calm because babies sense our energy and do your thing. The time will pass and before you know it the wheels will touch the ground. You can do this mama!!
3) Embrace The 3 Changes
Culture: Sometimes new places and people can be a lot for a baby and they'll seek extra comfort from their parents. In Italy, everyone loves a baby! "Che bello!" is something sweet you'll hear as you walk down the street. It's such a welcoming place for young families. Italians sure like to show their affection. In general every introduction is generally two kisses, one on each cheek. As new parents, coming out of this Covid-era, navigating new meetings with baby and figuring out how to handle all the touching can be tricky. Overtime you come to understand that in Italy, it's a part of their normal love and expression. Embrace the changes of the beautiful places you will visit, but always speak up if things make you uncomfortable. Listen to your gut and observe your baby's behavior. You know your little one better than anyone else. If your baby shrugs away from someone, give your baby the space they need. Never force an interaction. Watch for cues of overstimulation. A rule of thumb for new visitors is to never touch and kiss a baby's face. Adults carry big germs little ones should not be exposed to. When in doubt, always ask mom/dad first. It's the right thing to do and if they say yes, be sure to first wash your hands!
Food: Italy has the worlds best food! It simply does, at least I think so! Who doesn't love fresh, organic ingredients, wine and endless pasta?! If your baby has gotten used to eating packaged foods and purees, allow them to enjoy and try new foods from the new places you'll visit! It's one of the most fun parts of traveling with a baby. I love seeing Gio try fresh, new foods, see different types of pasta and enjoy the textures of foods as he tries them one bite at a time! It's great for a baby's microbiome to be exposed to new foods and helps to develop their little taste buds along the way. Gio has added new kinds of tastes from: pasta, cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies and even a lick or two of gelato along the way! He's one lucky little man!
Sleep: Ahhh sleep. As a sleep-deprived mama, I don't know how I've made it past a year on somewhat irregular sleep. I guess I'm just a mom. Sure it's gotten much better over time but traveling sure can affect your little one's sleep especially when you're traveling to entirely new timezones. Release the stress and just expect that sleep will be off, meals will be off and that's okay! Eventually it will improve day-by-day. Give yourself grace and do your best to enjoy your trip and not worry if your baby/toddler sleeps through "Pranzo" or lunch or if they are wide awake and giggling late at night. For now, Gio has gotten used to sleeping in most mornings and being a wild little night owl, and as tired as we can be some nights chasing our little walker till he tires himself out, it's just the way it is. We read, we laugh, we play and we give him all our love. We simply make the best of it, even on the tiresome days and nights.
Final words: If in doubt, get your baby's passport asap and book the trip! You will absolutely never regret traveling with your little honey bunny (cries, blowouts, tantrums and all) and even if your baby won't remember it, you will for sure never forget it. I know I won't.
Violet aka Gio's mama <3
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