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The parents of young children are travelling more and more on both short trips in their own country and longer trips abroad. Travelling with young children is normally an exciting experience for few families, but it's good to be prepared so that you can meet the tiny person's various needs.
We're no longer just parents, we want to experience exciting things and continue with our active lifestyles even once we've had children. This is an international trend, and according to Maria Lexhagen, tourism researcher and university lecturer at the Etour Tourism Research Institute, the parents of today take it for granted that their children should be with them in ever increasing numbers of situations. We want to carry on living the lives we had before our children were born, and quite simply we want our children to join in and enjoy their lives.
"The parents of young children are also a strong target group which makes stringent demands, and travel providers are trying to meet those demands," says Maria Lexhagen. By way of example, she mentions all inclusive options, children's clubs at various resorts and the fact that more and more airports are offering special family queues.
When travelling with a young child, the pleasure of the trip can sometimes be mixed with anxiety about how things are going to go. Is it really possible to travel with a tiny new baby? Of course you can, says child and parent psychologist Catarina Furmark. How able the parent is to withstand stress is every bit as influential before the journey as the actual change of environment. It's also particularly important for parents to be receptive to their own signals and the signals their child is giving them while away from home.
"If the baby can be close to his or her parent, is given physical contact and feels that the parent can keep calm, the baby will keep calm as well," says Catarina Furmark.
From a medical standpoint, travelling a long way isn't always a good idea as infants are particularly susceptible to infection and might not have adequate vaccination protection. But that's something you can check with a doctor at your child health centre.
MAKE IT SMELL LIKE HOME
When you put your baby down to sleep while you're away, it might be worth bearing in mind that young babies like things to smell like home. Babies tend to feel secure if they have a baby blanket that smells familiar.
STICK TO YOUR HOME ROUTINES
Remember, young babies feel secure if they have routines. Routines are your baby's way of feeling they have control over their surroundings. That's why it's handy while you're away to try to keep your bedtime routines the same as the ones you have at home. Babies who sleep in their own beds might feel more secure if they sleep in their own travel cots that smell of home. If you like, take along the bedclothes that were in the cot before you left home, but don't wash them first. Then use the bedtime ritual that you normally have as far as possible. Just as for adults, it's nice to have moderately subdued lighting and not to have the bedroom too warm.
ON YOUR BABY'S TERMS
All in all, the most important thing is to give your tiny baby closeness and a sense of security and to be receptive to your baby's needs. Travelling with a young baby must take place on the baby's turns and at his or her own pace. Your trips will probably be different to the ones you enjoyed before you became parents, but we promise that discovering the world all over again through the eyes of a child is an exciting experience.
* with material from Baby Bjorn
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