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LAURA BYRNE: Plane trips and poonamis. What I've learned about travelling with a newborn.

If there is one sentiment that is drilled into every new mum, from mothers’ groups to mummy blogs, it’s that “babies thrive in routine”.

So when my fiancé Matt and I decided to book a two-week European holiday with our four-month-old daughter Marlie-Mae, my excitement was met with a whole lot of commentary to the tune of “WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU TRAVEL WITH A NEWBORN?”

Dad to twins Sean Szeps shares his top travel tips for taking kids on long-haul international flights. Post continues below.

We had made a promise to each other when I was pregnant that we wouldn’t let having a baby stop us from travelling. It was an easy promise to make and a whole lot harder to keep after our daughter had entered the world – a real living, crying, sleeping, pooping, smiling tiny human.

Truthfully I was terribly anxious about leaving all of our creature comforts behind. BUT, we did it and we survived! Nay, WE THRIVED in the wonderful chaos that is travelling with an infant.

In every single sense, on every single day – it was worth it.

 

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Packed my boobs. Wish us luck!

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Travelling with a newborn forces you to be adaptable. Nothing evokes problem-solving skills like a poonami and an alarming lack of changing facilities and baby wipes.

Let me set the scene. We were enjoying lunch one afternoon at a tiny café on a couple of plastic chairs by the oceanfront. The place was modest, the toilet was a step up from a hole in the ground and a bucket of water – BUT THE FOOD WAS AMAZING.

Just as our lunch was being served our baby decided to let rip right next to my freshly grilled piece of cod and all over her last clean onesie. Babies are going to baby, so at times you gotta dig deep, use some serviettes and convert your pram into a makeshift change table.

Our daughter enjoyed the rest of lunch nude apart from a nappy and she did not care one iota.

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I used to be the sort of traveller who would book last-minute accommodation in the taxi on the way to the hotel, or travel insurance at the departure terminal. But not anymore! Travelling with a newborn requires planning and it requires consideration. It is important to minimise risk-taking behaviour (because you’re a grown-up now).

Plus, being in a state of disarray can impede on peak holiday relaxedness.

travelling with baby
"Travelling with a newborn requires planning and it requires consideration." Image: Supplied

The weight of this dawned on me when our bus arrived at a Parisian airport with only seven minutes until the check-in gate closed. I had to madly scramble my way through a busy airport with a baby strapped to my chest while Matt careened ahead with our luggage. It was a stressful and completely avoidable situation.

I now wholeheartedly understand why my mum would always make us get to the airport three hours before an international flight. Babies can be unpredictable, so take my advice: however long you think something will take you when you’re travelling with a baby - double it.

Pre-holiday Matt and I had been bickering with each other. Not the level of bickering that raises alarm bells, just your normal amount of sleep-deprived irritability that you would expect from new parents. A holiday to Europe without any distractions is a sure-fire way to break the monotony of the daily slog.

Happiness is legally enforced when you’re eating pasta in the Mediterranean, and boy did we eat some pasta, and boy was I happy. As corny and cliché as it sounds, we’ve come home more in love with each other and our little family than ever before.

When you are responsibility-free, you can put all your time and energy into strengthening the bonds between you and your partner and your baby.

travelling with baby
"When you are responsibility-free, you can put all your time and energy into strengthening the bonds between you and your partner and your baby." Image: Supplied
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It's amazing how long the days feel when you’re not cooking, cleaning or rushing to the bank in a fog of life admin. All there is to do is have quality time and cuddles in the shade with your adorable drooly chunk of a baby (and equally adorable yet slightly less drooly fiancé).

It may be true that babies thrive in routine. However, in my limited experience, I can vouch that babies also thrive in the company of their stress-free, pasta-filled, blissed-out parents.

travelling with baby
"All there is to do is have quality time and cuddles." Image: Supplied

Our daughter may be too young to remember her first holiday, so you might think, "What's the point of travelling with a baby if they can’t take it all in?"

The point is, as her parents we will never forget. We will never forget that she had her first swim in the ocean with her father in Puglia, nor will I ever forget the time I held my baby in my arms and sung songs to her at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Travelling with a newborn is all about creating memories for us as parents during this special and fleeting time. What a magnificent heart-warming cluster of memories we made as family, moments that we will treasure long after the baby jetlag has worn off.

Have you bravely travelled with a newborn? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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