What are you – an elephant or a bird?

Elephants take their young everywhere with them. Remember the elephant patrol in Jungle Book? Birds leave their young behind. My own experience as an Indian mother of a 20 month old, tells me you could enjoy being the elephant.

Yes, you have to fend for the baby all the time. But that is true even if you are at home with them. You will find them easier to keep engaged when you are out. The trick is to plan well ahead, choose the right kind of places and be adventurous enough to change the plans if need be.

While you take care of the usual adult travel criteria such as places of interest, weather, budget , clean accommodation ( mosquito free), running water ( with a geyser), here are some add ons when you have a baby with you:

Where to go
– Check if the place is “open” to babies? (there are places other than pubs that bar babies – eg Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. This is more when you are on to spiritual places/ spas)
– Explore hiring a cradle or pram- some resorts offer that option
– If you have a portable play pen/ cradle/ pram – carry it along only if you will find use for them.
– Ensure the trekking/walking time is not too long ( else pack in a baby sling)
– While you may like dogs, see that they are not gallivanting all over the place

How to go
– On the flight – request front seats with more leg room. Enjoy the attention that you get since you are with a baby! While take off and landing, either nurse the baby or carry some thing for her to munch . This will reduce pressure related ear aches.
– Buy your baby a separate seat if on a really long flight or ask for a baby basket if he is small enough.
– If travelling by train take a lower berth and let the baby sleep with you on the inner side. You could take turns with hubby since you will not be left with much space and end up with a bad back.
– Keep all essentials in you baby bag as hand luggage ( diaper/ wipes/ finger foods/ sipper or bottle/ one play thing/ book)

(Below, Anush has much fun on train!)

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Mummummm- Food
Depending on the baby’s age – inform the hotel in advance that you will need some bland food – rice, roti, daal, boiled veggies
– If the baby is weaned, a heater at your disposal would help – so that you can warm milk/ water as per kiddo’s needs
– Carry a small battery operated hand blender , if your baby is still into soft foods – in India fresh food is always better than those bottled mashes
– Try and stick to meal times but do not fret if she ate fruit instead of cereal

Play and sleep
– Be prepared for some embarrassing moments- she may wail unprovoked, there may be an explosive scent from her diaper, etc. Everyone understands- so do not try to justify. If they do not understand they will when they have a kid.
– Do NOT force the child to do anything she is not ready for- she knows best- let her be. If one of you does it, she may be more interested eg. you can get into the pool and then she may want to splash about herself
– Day nap timings can change but ensure that the night bed timeline is met

Poo Poop
– You do find chemists and diapers even in smaller towns in India. Bottled water and tetrapacks of milk, biscuits, Cerelac, etc are all available in our land of plenty. SO carry some back up but try and buy largely at shops closest to your destination.
– Be a little less fussy about whether you need a Wipro or a Pampers or a Huggies. It is only a few days. Of course if your baby is allergic please be fussy.
– If your baby is not used to diapers, you could try nappy pads and also carry cloth nappies. But just throw them away once soiled. Saves the bother of washing and drying

Luggage-must carry
– Pack well but not unwieldy.
– Clothing- depends on the weather but about 3 per day will do fine and full pants for the night irrespective of the weather
– Toys/ Books- take a couple of the favorites and one not so explored one as well
– Carry the typical medication you would take even on short journeys- diaper cream, mosquito repellant, baby lotion, cough/ cold and fever medicines

Above all, do pack in a cool head, lots of love and a little patience and you will have a rollicking good time.

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